Commentary

Seven MORE Words They Ought to Ban

In his famous rant against words banned from network TV, George Carlin said “there are 400,000 words in the English language, and there are seven of them that you can't say on television. What a ratio that is: 399,993 to seven. They must really be bad. They'd have to be outrageous, to be separated from a group that large. Those (seven) are the ones that will infect your soul, curve your spine and keep the country from winning the war.”

I have my own list of seven words (in some cases phrases) I’d like to see banned not just from network TV, but from ever being uttered in public anywhere again. While they may not be as universally offensive as George’s Seven they have just the same potential to infect your soul, curve your spine and keep the country from winning the war.

Monetize. This word was invented by Hans Christian Andersen to describe how little (generic) gnomes could spin straw into gold. Two centuries later it was adapted by economists and (Swiss) gnomes to hide the fact they didn’t have a clue how inflation could be 263% in Argentina at the same moment there was deflation in Russia or why people in the US would pay $200 for a share of CMGI. MBAs started dropping it into barroom banter hoping to get lucky with models. All this naturally led to prominence in Internet venture funding appeals. Anyone who now promises to “monetize your assets” wants to do to you, what the MBAs in the bars were trying to do to the models.

Traction. Right after “a pulling of the leg or arm in order to bring a fractured bone back into place, “ Webster’s currently defines traction as “to grip or hold a surface while moving, without slipping.” This of course assumes your Silicon Valley SUV or Porsche hasn’t already been repossessed. In the Internet business it means “I’ve got your attention, now help me figure out how to get your money,” a term often employed by gunmen during a stick up.

Cost Per Action. First used in the second century BC by Samarian prostitutes to outline the terms of a certain qui pro quo business transaction, astonishingly, it has a similar meaning today. However, treatment of attendant STDs has improved somewhat.

Test Buy. This is an oxymoron wrapped in an enigma. While is seems to suggest that an ad buyer wants to “test” your site to see if they want to “buy” more inventory, what it really means is “I plan to TEST your business acumen by insisting you give me some free or .05 CPM inventory (even if it costs you .20 CPM to serve) while pretending that I might later pay a higher CPM. If you BUY this, you are even stupider than I thought.”

Optimize. This was first used by the mental health professional in the 50s to explain the rational for driving ice picks through your eyelids into your skull. It derived from the prognosis that after the procedure you’d be a “bit more optimistic” about life. It has morphed only slightly in the Internet Age to mean, “If you surrender your ability to reason, I’ll make you think that everything is better than it really is.”

The Internet Doesn’t Work: No, you are right it doesn’t work especially if your compensation is directly tied to how much money you can throw at network television which is a HUGE success…uh, if you ignore a monumental drop in viewers in the past decade, audience measurement that can’t distinguish between your three year-old or her 80 year-old deaf grandmother (who left during the commercial to get another tea cup of gin), the dawning of the ReplayTV/TiVo-age; and that every buy costs more and delivers less.

Bandwidth: A term developed by wives to explain to their husbands why they ought NOT eat the entire pint of chocolate chip cookie dough; (i.e.: “If your band gets any wider, you’re gonna have a heart attack.”) Adapted in the Internet Age to describe the amount of time you no longer have to listen to ignoramuses whine about how the Internet doesn’t work.

John Durham is COO of Interep Interactive

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