The word binge is a paradox connoting both shame and pride.
The very same binge-drinking that is such a concern for parents and college administrators is, for certain students, something to brag about. Note the pyramids of empty beer cans that grace fraternity houses and the murky recollections of weekend benders bracketed with phrases like, “Oh my God, I was sooo drunk that night!”
That some don’t survive these adventures in besottedness doesn’t stop bingeing from happening, and may even increase the binge’s mystique.
When Princeton student Tal Fortgang recently complained on Time magazine's blog that, as a white male, he had been repeatedly “reprimanded” to “check his privilege,” the Internet exploded in somewhat predictable ways.
I'll let you and Facebook explore what all is being said about Fortgang's piece, but the word privilege deserves some scrutiny.
One language trait I've noticed recently is a peculiar use of the word “around.”
Someone might be describing a new organizational initiative and say, “Let's get together and have a discussion around the new viral marketing campaign.” What the person would have said prior to the around ascendancy is, of course, “Let's get together and have a discussion about the new marketing campaign.”
So what's all this about around—or rather around it? Or whatever?
Journalists and bloggers, teachers and everybody on Facebook love to use the phrase “studies show.”
I love it, too.
“Studies show” tickles the part of us that asserts a superior sort of rationality and an up-to-date command of the facts. It makes us feel smart, particularly when the study we cite is surprising or new, but especially when it reinforces what we already believe.
We use the word “myth” in at least two almost contradictory ways. Most commonly, we use myth to mean falsehood, a hoax without the intention to deceive.
This is the myth sites like snopes.com and shows like Mythbusters serve to dispel. It is also a product of the Age of Enlightenment, when a seemingly rational universe called not for myth but for measurement.
The most powerful lies aren’t the day-to-day, so-called white lies--that we’re ”fine” or that we genuinely care if complete strangers “have a good one.” These are, in fact, sometimes important parts of being polite.