Buzz-terms we should avoid

A lot of buzz-terms have cropped up in our modern technological world. Not buzzwords; most are phrases, thus I refer to them as “buzz-terms”. I suppose that would make “buzz-term” itself a buzz-term or, rather, it will be if it catches on. Not all buzz-terms are bad. Some suit a very specific purpose, filling a void in the language but some have been created to replace already existing terms. So here they are, buzz-terms that should be avoided:

Human Resources

Once upon a time, not so long ago, the department responsible for employees was called Personnel. It had a nice ring to it; it was soft and warm. At some point, someone, somewhere, for some reason unknown to me, decided to coin the term “Human Resources.”

You’re not a person anymore. You’re still acknowledged as human, as opposed to cattle or xerox machines, but you’re a resource – a thing to be used. The reasoning behind this comes from project management where man-hours are, indeed, considered resources and estimates are based on human output. Fair enough. Such is needed to do that job. As for the rest of us, we’re people, not things and should be addressed as such. I find this term highly offensive because of its callous utilitarianism.

Phone Screen

Equally offensive is the term “Phone Screen.” They used to be interviews, which had a friendly sound to it, kind of like being on Conan. Now they want a fifteen minute “phone screen.” You’re going to be “screened” like the parasite you are.

This particularly dehumanizing expression comes from an innate believe on the part of management that everyone is as slimy and dishonorable as they are. Clearly, because they did awful, deceitful things to get where they are they assume that everyone is like that. As a result, such people must be “screened”. There are two rules for tyrants: seize power and prevent others from seizing power.

Best Practices

Apparently, we must all adhere to them. But, as anyone who is familiar with commercialism is aware, anything that purports to be the best, usually isn’t. Furthermore, in many cases where the term “best practices” is used, whether or not it is “the best” is entirely subjective, particularly in my industry. It’s just a dogmatic way of derailing any alternate opinions, usually by people who can’t justify their own enough to provide a coherent argument.

In some cases there are actual, proper, established and proven procedures that one should follow; preserving forensic evidence at a crime scene, for example. Didn’t there used to be a term for that? Wasn’t it “proper procedure?” Proper procedure allows for improvement. Best practices are as good as they’re ever going to get. After all, they are The Best!

Enough Said

Enough said. There will be no further discussion or debate. I have had the final word. People who use such terminology should be ridiculed into humiliation. Just because you are tired of debating the issue doesn’t mean that you win by terminating all conversation. It doesn’t close the conversation, it just makes you sound like a dogmatic jerk (probably the same dogmatic jerk who dictates “best practices”).


I’m not a shift worker so I might off on this one but when I see it used in Blue Bloods it has a chilling effect on my own blood. There are three shifts to cover a 24-hour period, yes? Day, Swing and Graveyard. To my knowledge none of them are called “tours”. That is a military term. It comes from “tour of duty” which refers to a soldier’s period of active duty in a foreign location (for example, a tour of duty in Vietnam) and it usually refers to an extended period of time.

But somehow, someone got it into their head that this is a synonym for a “shift” which, of course, it is not. Where are they touring? Lower Manhattan? Actually, most of the time they’re touring their desks. They’re not touring the Internet. There’s a perfectly good buzz-term form that which was needed to fill a void: surfing.

Final Thoughts:

Language evolves; English is a particularly rich language because it borrows from so many other languages. But the commercial world has a tendency to mindlessly jump on the bandwagon of the latest and greatest in an attempt to stay ahead of the curve (which is usually where all the money is) without thinking about whether the latest and greatest is necessarily the best from all angles, including how it is received.

In some cases these buzz-terms have a reason for existing, such as “surfing the web” or the term “yuppie” to describe a young, up-and-coming (or urban) professional; they were needed to fill a void in the language. But why create an ugly and offensive term when a perfectly good one exists? I prefer to be interviewed rather than screened and to be personnel rather than a resource. As I leave you to start a tour in the bathroom, I suggest thinking carefully about mindlessly using buzz-terms – it just isn’t best practice.

Enough said.