2011-08-04 / Sam Bari

At the end of the day as we move forward

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand

Did the headline make you shudder? I felt guilty writing it. As weary as we may be of listening to tired, unimaginative, nonsensical, stupid clichés, the politicians, newscasters and business community will not allow them to die.

Last night on the evening news “at the end of the day” was used in interviews by two politicians and a highly respected newscaster. One politician used “at the end of the day” twice.

The list of the most hated and overused clichés has not changed much in the last few years. The people who use them have such little imagination that they can’t come up with new ones. The vernacular created by street people at least changes regularly. And their slang has more purpose.

According to Internet polls, the consensus for the worst clichés includes:

• At the end of the day

• Moving forward

• Think outside the box

• Forward thinking

• Again

• We are where we are

• Not enough bandwidth

• Whatever

• We gave 110 percent

Let’s explore the meaning and origin of a few of these mindless English language embarrassments. Maybe we can inspire the brain dead to eliminate them from their worn out vocabularies and stop them from assaulting our ears with their sophomoric drivel.

My personal most hated of the bunch is “whatever.” According to the Oxford English dictionary “whatever” is a relative pronoun and adjective used to emphasize a lack of restriction in referring to anything or amount, no matter what.

Nonetheless, this perfectly good English word has been reduced in stature to an adverb that expresses exasperation or skepticism. In reality, it is an incomplete phrase used as an abbreviated insult to imply one of the following:

Whatever you say is irrelevant or stupid

Whatever you think doesn’t matter

Whatever your opinion is, nobody cares

The next time someone says “whatever” to you, keep that in mind.

My next least favorite is “Think outside the box.” Every time I hear it, I lose my appetite. This gem was initially intended to mean, “Think creatively, unimpeded by orthodox or conventional constraints.” Oh! I get it. It began life as an unbelievably stupid metaphor. How anyone equated “Think outside the box” with original thought is beyond my realm of comprehension.

Anyway, this worn-out, hackneyed phrase sadly originated in this country in the early 1970s. Yes, it is that old. Various authors from the world of management consultancy claim to have introduced the phrase. I have difficulty believing anyone would admit using it, let alone creating it.

All right, we had to get to it eventually, let’s address “At the end of the day.” The only thing that happens at the end of the day is the sunsets, the moon eventually rises somewhere, and if there aren’t too many clouds or a pall of industrial smog, a few stars might be visible.

The cliché is widely used by politicians who don’t want to commit to something like, “After we resolve this problem, we can initiate an effort to stimulate the economy and create jobs.”

Instead, they say, “At the end of the day.” This means that at some point total disaster will take care of a problem and they won’t have anything to solve, or eventually it will go away on its own.

Often, “At the end of the day” is followed by, “We can move forward.” This is political speak that means absolutely nothing. Loosely translated I suppose we can equate it to, “After this disaster goes away, we’ll go on to not deal with anything else that bothers you.”

Then we have, “We gave 110 percent.” Really? How is that done? It’s a physical impossibility. Who creates this stuff?

And you just gotta love, “We are where we are.” If that isn’t an example of profound thinking, I don’t know what is. All those who have a penchant for saying the obvious must be in total awe over that one.

When are people going to stop saying, “Again?” Especially, when they aren’t repeating something they said earlier. If they are repeating something they said earlier, I suppose they use “again” as a polite way of saying, “And now to reiterate for the slow learners.”

Unfortunately, at the end of the day we will continue to live in a system we can’t understand.

Return to top