Are there too many ‘Ologists?’



Not that long ago, I was asked if I was an Empath?  Now as far as I know, there is no such word. Though as we know, if a word becomes part of the everyday lexicon, it can become enshrined in the Oxford English Dictionary. I hope not!

Why am I so offended? Well, firstly, I’m from the North of England, where such pretention is not tolerated.  Thank God. But the real reason is that it seems emblematic of the modern tendency to create ‘bogusologies’, particularly buzzwords that seek to make you sound hip and edgy. For me dressing something up with the ‘in word’ instead of saying what you really mean, actually achieves the exact opposite of what you are trying to say. I have a pet theory that it’s people who are desperate to appear intelligent who are the biggest proponents of this trend. They can persuade themselves that they are impressing people by sliding in such words, when the reality is more likely to be the opposite. I refuse to believe that I am the only one who thinks this way,  but the nature of such buzzwords is that if you take a deep breath and shout ‘foul’ you may seem grumpy, unkind and making a fuss over nothing; because the offence caused is small. But when you are bombarded by such words it begins to get under your skin. So we stay silent, huff and puff about it, and let it ride.

People will say he’s the Alpha and Omega without the remotest idea where that statement comes from. Do any of those who trot it out even know it’s Greek?  From ‘concept to completion’, ‘strategy going forward’ – I’ve even heard people extolling such words as real positives. Perhaps the worst I’ve come across was an article saying substitute ‘pivot’ for change, because change sounds negative. I kid you not!

So when one drifts into the realm of mental health, it’s difficult to imagine more fertile ground in which to practice this habit.  Those who suffer from mental illness are vulnerable and therefore cannon fodder for ‘bogusologists’, who promise this, that and the other.

Try these:

Mental Wellness Management – what the hell is this?

We don’t help people now – we empower them

We don’t count up any longer, we talk about metrics

‘Stakeholders’ – which in real terms means all of us

‘Evidence based’

‘Outreach oriented’

‘Harm reduction’ instead of simply quitting drugs

I won’t bore you any further, but the list is endless. And I confess to having fallen for one myself. Bipolar – which sounds much less grim than Manic Depression: and I wonder just how many people who say they are Bipolar would admit to same if the term was still Manic Depression.

It seems to me that we are truly at sea as to what constitutes tact and diplomacy. On the one hand all the old fashioned courtesies like doffing one’s hat to a lady, or giving up your seat to a lady on public transport etc, that added elegance and charm to life have disappeared, yet we are scared to death to say it as it is for fear of causing offence.  A man is not follicly challenged – he’s bald.  A chimney sweep is not a domestic flu technician.

So the next time someone comes out with such a term, the easiest and most tactful way to earth your irritation is simply to ask ‘what does that mean’. As they stutter and stammer their explanation, you’ll have your answer.

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