So I was doing household chores today (resetting the entropy values in my closets here, reducing the amount of disorder in the kitchen there) while listening to a great podcast from the London School of Economics (LSE).
There is obviously a bottomless pit of free and open educational courses online, which I recommend for everyone in their spare time (the spaced-out zen of cooking is particularly conducive to listening to lectures via podcast, I find). But the LSE podcast is one of the best I’ve found. Open, interesting events several days a week. Great speakers, interesting topics, highly politicised, searching and open-minded.
This one was particularly good, on “The Metropolitan Revolution,” a new book in which the author posits a change in the organisation of the US which is taking place now. The primary mover in the US, he claims, is no longer the federal government, which has, “like Elvis, left the building, literally.” Instead, networks of cities are not forming hubs and clusters, fueling innovation, regrowth and so on. It’s an interesting spiel, particularly for just hearing the sheer resignation over the role of government of a US left-leaning academic.
Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to talk about — although do go hear the podcast, it’s fascinating. Instead, I wanted to talk about an issue which the podcast richly illustrates and which, frankly, I think it’s time we should talk about. I am referring to the obsessive-compulsive overuse of the word “frankly” which at this point, frankly, threatens all of Western civilization.
As far as I can tell, this is a disease which spread, frankly, from the President of the United States of America himself, Barack Obama. He has more verbal tics than a word forest full of lyme disease. When he’s stalling until he can make the next phrase in his head he goes “aaaaand” or trails another vowel in another word, like “thaaaat” or “uuuuh“. He unnecessarily refers to people as “folks” to sound folksy. Aaaand, when he’s trying to sound reasonable or wants extra attention, especially at the beginning of an argument, he goes “look“. And he also does “let me be clear“, which I can’t be arsed to find right now except for that impersonator which is in the link … and then there’s “frankly”.1
1. Which, frankly, I was unable to find in a quick search on the youtubes of his statements and such. But he’s been saying it a lot. Trust me.
Well, look, let me be clear: Obama’s frankly a very even-tempered guy, aaaand when he holds speeches, whenever he has to say something, uuuuh, which is, quite frankly, a little angry. Or when he’s putting blame on some other folks like the Republicans. Uuuuh, he’s often putting that “frankly” in there because, frankly, it lets the viewer know that a) I actually, quite frankly, have feelings, aaaaand b) I’m being as reasonable and forthright and as subtle as I could possibly be about these fucking complete uuuuuh assholes, frankly, which I’m talking about. But, quite frankly, they’re just being such immense and utter douchebags thaaaat, I’m just going to have to say this thing that I don’t even want to, but you, the person I’m speaking to, sort of lured it out of me.
And from the president, frankly, it spread to everyone in the political class and then to all the rest of the folks. Aaaand, let me be clear: I’m not saying it’s necessarily wrong, but it’s, frankly, quite annoying.
So look, I’m asking now that everyone out there, uuuuh, please stop saying the word frankly. Because frankly, it’s the most irritating of Obama’s verbal tics, aaaand, it’s the one that seems to have gotten the most spread along with “folks” (which, to be fair, was an innovation brought into politics by George W. Bush and, frankly, Bill Clinton). So let me be clear: you need to stop the madness now, aaaand, quite frankly, I think the best way for you to do that iiiiiis, to hear this song in your head every time you say the word. Whiiiich, frankly mister Shankly, this position I’ve held, well look, let me be clear: