4 Words We Love to Use That Have Lost All Meaning

#2. Guru

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Right around the time businesses realized that the condition of their Facebook page might have a significant impact on their sales, people in loose ties and Ryan Gosling haircuts (even the ladies) started popping up out of the woodwork announcing themselves as social media "gurus." The word is originally Sanskrit and only means "teacher," but in the last five years it's been re-appropriated by everyone who wants to convince the world they're an expert at something despite lacking any experience or tangible skill.

If that sounds harsh, go ahead and take a look at the Facebook page for Clorox. That was, without a doubt, created by someone who answers to the nonsense title of "Social Guru." If you look through the posts, you'll recognize the desperate, over-eager effort of a child new to Facebook trying to get someone, anyone to interact with them.

Someone was paid money to relentlessly hound people until they agreed that, yeah, bleach is fine. Worst of all, there was no discernible endgame; most companies still have no idea how social media equates exactly to sales, so they're just kind of guessing. Unfortunately, so is everyone who labels themselves a "guru." In fact, in just about any vocation where there isn't a quantifiable metric for ability yet, you will find "gurus." They show up to help with vague, exhausting-sounding problems like "Digital Strategy," "e-Commerce," and "Market Integration." We would never call the Chief of Police a "Justice Guru" or a pediatrician a "Baby Guts Guru" because those jobs have qualifications in place to ensure that the people are actually experts. The word "guru" only emerges in fields without any oversight, like holistic healing, spirituality, and Twitter, because ultimately it doesn't mean anything, it just sounds fancy. So it's time to kill it, even if this happens to be your job title and you have to burn all your business cards. Trust me on this, I'm a Semantic Immolation Guru.

#1. Superfood

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Did you hear the good news? If you start eating raw kale exclusively, you will live to be 417. Yes, we said that about blueberries and salmon and soy and spinach before, but we were wrong then. It's kale all the way. Kale is made of superpowers!

Sadly, the word "superfood" is completely made up by marketers. Then we as consumers perpetuated it, saying the word over and over to one another like a mantra in between stained mouthfuls of pomegranate. But the truth is, we don't know shit about food. We catch bits of conversations about how milk contributes to cancer, or we see Facebook posts about how hormones in chicken are causing kids to go through puberty earlier, and we're suddenly terrified to eat anything. We want a definitively good food that is nothing but upside, and sales departments smelled our anxiety like blood in the water.

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"Oh man, I thought the jig was up when I panicked and said 'yogurt,' but they ate that shit up."

They gave us "superfoods," with two or three new ones cropping up every few months, that are packed full of vitamins and nutrients and, presumably, some vigilante justice. It's understandable why everyone wanted to believe in them so badly, but there is no such thing as a "superfood." Certainly some are better for you than others, but the idea that one food can boost brain activity and cure heart disease and lower cholesterol is overly optimistic. There's nothing wrong with blueberries or kale, but they're also not saving lives, either. The chief dietician at St. George's Hospital in London said in an interview with The Guardian,

"The term 'superfoods' is at best meaningless and at worst harmful. There are so many wrong ideas about superfoods that I don't know where best to begin to dismantle the whole concept."

The harmful aspects she's referring to are the superfood zealots who OD on a particular micronutrient because they cram too much seaweed or Acai Berries down their throats thinking it will make them live forever. These people aren't necessarily idiots, either. They're just hopeful, and that's a vulnerable place to be. For that reason, "superfood" deserves the swiftest death. Unlike the other words on this list, its very existence is dangerous. It's a word we ought to cut immediately from our collective vocabulary... Or, and hear me out, we steal it back. We know the power of the word so we wield it ourselves, announcing all the stuff everyone loves already as superfoods. We can convince the world that Hawaiian pizza and peanut butter cookies are the ingredients of immortality. We'd be giving back to the world like shining, dietary Robin Hoods. We could all be happy again, our stomachs filled with righteousness, and also ham. Think it over.

You can follow Soren on Twitter or Tumblr.

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Soren Bowie

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