Poisonous Cliches

By Thomas Hubbard.  
Published on Monday, March 4, 2013

Aside from being clever and absurdly catchy, what purpose does a cliché serve? They come into this world as uttered afterthoughts—the bastard brainchildren of witty wise guys. They outwardly bear the traits of their creator, but mutate just beneath their surface. They soon succumb to their inner demons, haunting their loved ones and taking no prisoners in the process.

The plight of poisonous cliches is actually a dark comedy, where the characters involved suffer whimsically, albeit predictably. How many times have you heard someone use the catchphrase “grown and sexy?” Sure, it’s trendy, but the person or party involved is usually neither grown NOR sexy!

Another favorite seems to be the overused “men lie, women lie, numbers don’t” cliche. The truth is that in mathematics, we have these things called variables that can change at any given time. This is especially true when the value of these variables are outside your control. So if the numbers you’re referring to are in a bank account (which is really just a variable), don’t be surprised if your numbers turn out to be bigger liars than your boyfriend or girlfriend!

Poisonous cliches in the form of flattery

Still, most of us will take the bait and continue reciting these poisonous cliches. As long as you don’t kill yourself, this is perfectly okay. Clichés can be a lot of fun! More poisonous than the cliches we repeat are the ones people try to make us out to be. These cliches often come in the form of flattery.

For example, a family member needed my expertise some time ago. As I helped this person through their situation, they consistently praised me—calling me a “genius” over and over again. It quickly became a poisonous cliche – losing its original meaning and turning somewhat condescending. This person didn’t really think I was a genius. They figured that by calling me a “genius” over and over again, I would substitute it as a form of compensation.

Poisonous cliches are often people’s opinions, which like variables, are subject to change at any given moment.

The moral of this story is not the age-old forbade of mixing business with family, or any other cliche. The point is to not be easily flattered. When flattery presents itself, we should question its intent. Why is this person interested in my endeavors or expertise? Why do they keep telling me I’m (BLANK)? Note that whatever they keep telling you, it’s a variable and subject to change.

Clichés are bred in the bone of society. They can be fun and flattering! But when we fail to think for ourselves, we often reap their pitfalls and poisonous effects. Never allow yourself to become anyone’s cliché! Be mindful of the cliches you use, as well as the ones people try to make you out to be. Beware of the poisonous cliches.

This is your Monday Unleaded for the week of March 3, 2013. Have a productive week!

Song of the Week

I Can – Nas


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