For Lack of a Better Word . . .

She’s kind of a bitch

“For lack of a better word, she’s kind of a bitch.”

Seems a little harsh, number one. And number two, there’s not a better word?

I overheard a guy say the (kind of a) bitch thing at a bar. I don’t know whom he was talking about, nor do I necessarily care, but I do care about the introduction he used. It struck me that there were plenty of better words.

What I’ve observed in our use of language — in our actions as well — is an increasing laziness and naiveté. (I’ll try not to paint with a broad brush, as I don’t intend to generalize to the broad swaths of America who, I optimistically believe, are intelligent enough to think before speaking and acting.) We — not we as in only you, but we as in me too — have times when we stop trying to find that better word.

So we settle. We cop out. We use what you might refer to as palliative (and precursory) language to shirk responsibility.

For lack of a better word . . .
No offense but . . .
I don’t want to sound rude but . . .

But it’s not just with language that we do this, which is the troubling part. It’s with our actions, with our decisions.

I would’ve done that . . .

Well, why didn’t I do that? Is it our lack of patience, our harried schedules, that prevent us from taking one or two more seconds to find that better word instead of half-assed fluff that tides us over in the interim? Is it the morsel of extra time it takes that deters us from finding a superior, more beneficial solution? Is it the realization that we can be content, instead of great, and still live an adequate life? Is it fear of the risk we must take when we choose a more difficult or less popular endeavor?

Simply put, it’s easy to take the easy way out, and I’ve seen too much of that — in my personal and professional life. As pessimistic as that sounds, I believe it’s (mostly) true. I don’t believe we can afford to stagnate in contentedness by using palliative language or excuses for our actions. If we do this, the next step is to regress, to avoid learning and excelling, to eschew responsibility. And I know you’ve all witnessed that next step in some way, maybe not personally, but at least through observation. Think college years. Think riots on the news. Think.

Is she, for lack of a better word, kind of a bitch?

Come on. Figure it out. Find a better word. Find a better solution. It might just take a few extra seconds and a modicum of extra thought.

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