Adam Greenfield takes issue with the recently coined abbreviation BRIC, which arbitrarily lumps together the peoples of Brazil, Russia, India and China into a single multi-billion-sized unit.
Terms like this are:
antimatter to clarity of insight, or more accurately, some malignant linguistic equivalent of ice-nine: to drop one of them into a sentence is not merely to cast doubt on the acuity of one’s own mental processes, it’s to poison the entire discussion that follows and therefore includes the term by reference.
… which, I think, is beautifully put. Unlike Adam, I can’t resist the temptation to invoke Orwell’s Politics and the English language on occasion.
“Out of the box” used to get me too, but I’m now fully innoculated thanks to the last paragraph of a 2002 New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell. Discussing Enron he concluded:
They were there looking for people who had the talent to think outside the box. It never occurred to them that, if everyone had to think outside the box, maybe it was the box that needed fixing.
Can’t help smiling every time I hear the phrase.