For the Love of All That Is Holy, Please Stop Saying “Vibes.”
We have reached peak “vibes.”
That’s right. No more supplanting a better alternative to describe that vague, indescribable feeling the word “vibes” so often — yet so feebly — attempts to replace.
That means no more “positive vibes” or “breakfast vibes” or “chill vibes” or “winter vibes.” No more “poolside vibes” or “coffee vibes” or “emo vibes.” No more taking pictures of your bearded urban woodsman friend standing against a deteriorating brick wall, holding a soy cappuccino and tagging it #vibes. Same goes for cute cats or hip bars or basically any physical space you walk into and feel compelled to reach for your iPhone in a inconsequential attempt to capture and disseminate to your 305 followers the feeling and soul of a place, and your unflinching craving for human attention. Die, “vibes.” Die. You have had your moment, robbing people of their human potential and subjecting them to the world’s most irritating linguistic trend.
It’s time to use your Big Boy Words, people.
My dislike of this word has been simmering for quite some time now, stewing grand, sweeping contempt for the world at large within my brittle mind.
Trends like this often start off small, innocuous. They seem cute and on-trend, a secret language to some. Like skinny jeans, Edison bulbs, ironic mustaches, and kale salads. Only it invariably reaches a tipping point and what once started off — proverbially — as a few friends chomping on Molly in a Brooklyn basement and grinding away to dubstep circa 2002 eventually devolves into a bunch of dancing hamsters in a 2013 Kia Soul commercial. “Vibes” is this commercial. “Vibes” is the dancing hamsters and your fading will to live.
When you Google the phrase “most irritating,” the feed populates with the following:
It is interesting that the word “irritating” is so heavily tied to the idea of sound. It doesn’t list off “most irritating prosecutor on Making a Murderer” or “most irritating chemical in my low-fat fro yo.” We predominately reserve our agitation, for reasons I am not empowered to discuss, for that which offends the ear. Like vibes, for instance.
Rampant “vibe” abuse began to impact me in a real way this summer, when I was invited to a birthday party of a good friend by a third party stranger apparently in possession of a limited vocabulary and an extensive database of said friend’s friends. The email sent my way possessed 2430 lengthy, overly enthusiastic characters, many of them dedicated to bludgeoning the word “vibes” until it resembled Joe Frazier’s face. In it, I was promised an evening of singing vibes, cigarette-on-the-balcony vibes, discussions-about-life-in-a-well-lit-room vibes, let-the-night-take-you-wherever vibes, and — in case that wasn’t all enough — rooftop vibes. At the end of this email, the only thing I was able to muster was, you guessed it, BAD VIBES and an allergy to hyphens. Tainted as the evening was by this reckless use of an overdone word, I did not make the party.
Like any bad habit, it’s tough to quit without a replacement. Chain smokers get Nicorette, but what do offending wordsmiths have to ween themselves with? Maybe that latent part of your brain you’ve perhaps endeavored to stimulate with a book of poetry or an issue of The New Yorker. Yes, it will take time. Yes, it will take perseverance. As for what to put at the bottom of that photo you’ve just posted of you relaxing on a chaise wearing a vintage fur?
You’re on your own. Sorry not sorry, baes.
[Writer shudders as she writes these words in succession.]
Jenny Bahn is the author of Brooklyn Love Stories.