Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Really stupid words, Chapter 17.

 

When was the last time you heard someone say, “I’ll call them,” or “I’ll write to them,” or “I’ll talk to them,” or even, nowadays, “I’ll text them.”

Not long ago, perhaps. But, if your ears hear the same things mine do, it is likely that more often than not you hear, “I’ll reach out to them.”

I hear it all the time. I don’t mind it, really. But it seems less precise than saying what you actually intend to do—such as call, write, talk, text, or what have you. On the other hand, it’s hard to deny that “reach out” has more cachet. And it sounds more personal, warmer, fuzzier, and all that. Like going for a hug, sort of.

Here’s why.

I will bet cash against cow pies that it all started back in 1979 with an advertising campaign from AT&T. Back then, telephone service was provided by regulated monopolies. AT&T was it for long-distance calls (for those who remember such things) and for local service through the Bell System. The campaign encouraged more long-distance calling—for which they made money, of course—by persuading us to “Reach out and touch someone.” That tag line punctuated a lovely (and touching) little jingle on TV and radio that I can still sing to this day. It firmly established “reach out” as the thing to do, and we still “reach out” today.

Except for me. I prefer to write. Or call.

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