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Reaching Out: The Sound of Fingernails on a Chalkboard

It has not been all that long ago that I noted the phrase for the first time. What did she just say? And once having heard it, it pops up constantly at every turn. And it is driving me crazy(er).

It sounded so precious and pretentious even then. Now that I can’t go an hour without hearing it on the street or radio or reading it on the web, I’m ready to reach out and choke the next person who can’t say “contact, email, call, phone, meet with…instead of “reach out.”

It’s closest relative would be the somewhat less contact-intentional phrase suggesting physical proximity: “to get in touch.” Reach out just involves many more extremity segments and conveys an implied begging, pleading or sucking up.

Apparently I am not alone in my petulance over this cloying newspeak that makes me see a fawning, bootlicking supplicant begging a higher-up for attention, for forgiveness, for spare change–I dunno.

I see praying hands, the arm of God extended, the fingertip of God almost touching David’s, reaching out to validate the human’s continued existence–or not–for yet another moment before He pulls back from His reaching out.

The one who voices the intention to reach out, I’m sorry, sounds  superior, pretentious, and condescending. I’m regret my bad mood here, that’s just the way the phrase makes me feel.

In a huggy touchy-feely granola town like Floyd, we’ll be reaching out til the cows come home, so I better get use to it. Except here, the phrase is more likely to be accompanied by the sincere physical gesture, and that is kind of nice.

Be honest: Have you picked up this smarmy-tactile-sensuous way of saying “get in touch” and is it in common use in your household or workplace?

So get it off your chest. What other NewSpeak has become a brainworm that is eating at you? Language evolves. Sometimes it devolves. Should we let “reach out” become entrenched for centuries of words to come? I say no. You say…

Thanks for ‘Reaching Out’ – Lingua Franca – Blogs – The Chronicle of Higher Educationhttp://chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2012/10/08/thanks-for-reaching-out/

Does “Reach Out” Overreach? : Candlepower : Thinkmap Visual Thesaurushttp://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/candlepwr/does-reach-out-overreach/

So when did “reach out” become the new way to say “contact us”? | LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/groups/So-when-did-reach-out-761867.S.5803425222929428483

(70) Phrases: Why do people use the term “reach out” when they mean “contact”? – Quorahttp://www.quora.com/Phrases/Why-do-people-use-the-term-reach-out-when-they-mean-contact

Urban Dictionary: reach outhttp://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=reach out

Fritinancy: Does Reach Out Make You Retch?http://nancyfriedman.typepad.com/away_with_words/2011/10/does-reach-out-make-you-retch.html

Don’t reach out to me. Please. | A Penned Point http://apennedpoint.com/dont-reach-out-to-me-please/

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fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

6 thoughts on “Reaching Out: The Sound of Fingernails on a Chalkboard”

  1. What bothers me is “like” when it makes no sense and young people can’t make a complete sentence without half a dozen “likes”!

  2. I can’t stand to hear young people say “Shut up”. I was taught that it was rude to say and it drives me crazy when I hear it used so often.

  3. I haven’t heard “reach out” yet to my knowledge. Maybe it hasn’t caught on out in the West. Your rant was fun.

  4. Not heard it in the West? I thought for sure that’s where it started. Bet you this, Kathy: now that you are aware of it, you’ll hear it five times in the next week.

  5. Television and radio news people use every opportunity to insert the word “icon” or “iconic” into newscasts. Grrrrrr…..

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