Things that should end or go away in the new year

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By Jackie Torok, Managing Editor

Maybe most people think of the start of a new year as an opportunity for new beginnings, but from where I’m sitting, some beginnings can’t happen without some significant endings.

At the top of my list of things I’d like to see go away in 2014 is my house back in South Carolina. It’s the last physical tie I have to the Palmetto State, and I’m anxious to sever it. It’s been on the market for going on two years now. That’s a long time to pay mortgage on a place where you don’t live. I loved my cute little house and worked hard to make it a home, but once it’s not mine anymore I never want to see it again.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s tired of reality television shows and the celebrities they spawn, either. From “Survivor” to “American Idol” to “Duck Dynasty,” I just don’t get the appeal and it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if they went off the air. I can’t claim a lack of interest in all current reality TV shows, though; I do like “Wipeout” because it’s silly and I love “Mythbusters” because I always learn something from it.

While surfing the Internet last week, a piece in Mother Jones by Tim Murphy grabbed my attention. In it, he compiled a list of “the 39 worst words, phrases, and parts of speech of 2013.” I won’t repeat the whole piece, but I’ll share some highlights with you.

OK, first off, many of the items on Murphy’s list are related to the language of the Internet and new media, like the “#,” or hashtag, as used on Twitter, and “selife,” a self-portrait photo people post to Facebook, Twitter or on Instagram.

He also takes issue with “‘hashtag.’ This refers to the spoken utterance of the word ‘hashtag,’ often accompanied by air-quotes. People can see you doing this.” Me, I’m not a fan of air-quotes, period.

Some of the stuff on Murphy’s list, like “brogurt,” I’ve never heard before. You can look that up if you want to; I’m not that interested in what that is or what it means.

I’m definitely with him on these, though:

  • “‘game-changer.’ What you’re describing probably won’t change the game. But if it does, would you want to spoil the moment with a cliche?”
  • “‘Rethuglicans, Repugs,’ ‘Republikkkans,’ ‘Demoncrats,’ ‘Dumbocrats,’ and every other variation thereof. Please just use the normal proper nouns; you can add whatever modifier you like before or after.”
  • “‘literally the worst.’ Actually, while we’re at it, let’s ban ‘literally.’”
  • “‘impact.’ (When used as a verb.)” Can we ban “impactful,” too, while we’re at it?

I’d also appreciate it if people would stop saying they “could care less” about something. No. It’s “couldn’t care less.” I used to debate this constantly with my dear friend and fellow journalist, the late great Dwight Dana. It annoyed him every time I corrected it in his copy. But then I would ask him, “If you could care less, Dwight, why don’t you?” He never gave me a satisfactory answer.

One of the tasks I plan to tackle in the coming year is developing a stylebook here at the Beacon. Most newspapers use the Associated Press Stylebook as a guide for writing. For example, FBI is acceptable as first and only reference to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to the AP Stylebook. A similar entry in the Beacon stylebook might dictate that we spell out “Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office” on first reference, then shorten it to “BCSO” on subsequent references. Stylebooks are a way to maintain consistent writing that is clear to readers.

Come to think of it, “new beginnings” is pretty redundant. And with that, I think it’s time for this column to end. The new season of “Mythbusters” starts Saturday, and I need the off-the-clock entertainment to distract me until my house sells.


Jackie Torok is the managing editor of the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or editor@brunswickbeacon.com.