22 Oct

Empty phrases

A news article cropped up today – on various media channels – stating that (huge surprise) politicians were the least trustworthy professionals, according to a public opinion survey.

Among many reasons, I think I’ve found one in particular that points to why the politician’s stock is so low:

Probably because of the vast number of media channels – previously unavailable just a few years ago – I’ve become acutely aware of just how often they repeat the same phrases, until the point where they become hollow.

Since the ‘credit crunch’ took hold, five years ago, how many times have you heard the following trotted out:
‘hard-pressed families’
‘the squeezed middle’
‘inflation-busting price rises’
‘hard-working people’
‘rigorous and robust’ (as in ‘a rigorous and robust inquiry must be set up’…. ‘we must have an education system that is both rigorous and robust’)

Each ministerial department has a communications team, armed to the teeth with sparky, young speech writers and general wordsmiths.
They’re employed to pore over semantics, use intricate wordplay, create succint soundbites: all to give a bit of punch to political announcements and – in reality – dress things up so that they have a positive spin on them.

Is it not possible for them to chop and change political phrases more often, just to keep up the illusion that politicians might actually know what the general public are going through? Otherwise what happens is exactly what’s happening now – the voting public become immune to these phrases; they lose all potency. Effectively they become cliches.

It’s the same with any form of communication: there’s only so many times charities can tell people just how terrible the situation is, elsewhere in the world, before they become immune to the message.
This isn’t because the audience are heartless individuals, it’s because they’ve seen a similar message 20+ times already that day, and which cause do they choose as more worthy than another if they all have a similar message?

The best example of getting a message across about an important situation, that I’ve seen in recent years, has to be this:

I first saw this five years, and it’s stayed with me ever since.

It’s proof, if ever there were, that you can say the same thing as has been said before – just find a different way of saying it.

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