Going Through a Phrase
I wonder what it would be like if we lived in a world where every person had their own, unique catchphrase – a punchy slogan that captured their personal modus operandi.
I’m not alluding to a sort of dystopian society in which humans have been reduced to tri-syllabic communication, but rather a civilisation where each man and women are identified by an assembly of words that sum up who they are and what they are about. Perhaps even in lieu of names?
Surely it would speed up the process on a host of transactions. You’d know the exact substance of a person on first meeting them and could quickly gauge whether any further communication was worthy. Instead of trading awkward platitudes for minutes before realising there is in fact a deficit in common ground, you’d shake hands and the ice would be broken
My catchphrase would be something like “In my opinion” or “I’m going to disagree with you on that”. When people first encountered me they would know, with some certainty, that I liked a good ole debate, and that I wasn’t interested in speaking pointlessly about the weather. This would no doubt trim the fat.
There are some impracticalities to my logic. Baristas would have difficulty fitting an entire catchphrase on a take away cup (bigger coffees perhaps?) and wallets would need to fit augmented licenses. The ripple effect on pant pockets and purses would need some getting used to but the perks easily make up for the minor inconveniences.
When people got married they would take each other’s catchphrases. Jim Rohn famously said you are the sum of the people you spend the most time with, so it would make sense. Perhaps if I married a person whose catchphrase was “I’m fine with whatever” my catchphrase would become, “My opinion is whatever”, or more diplomatically, “I’m fine with whatever opinion”. We might also be a terrible match – our catchphrases bringing out the worst in one another – and I’d be subject to “My opinion? Fine. Whatever."
At least we could narrow the pool of people we included in our lives. An “In my opinion” could be friends with a “Well, from my perspective” to help teach each other the benefits of compromise and negotiation.
To be fair, I’d probably be better suited to someone who was doting and generous; a farmer who serviced the land and whose passion was to feed not just his family but the nation with his carefully grown crops. His catchphrase might be “Can I offer you this?” We’d marry and I’d change my name to “Can I offer you my opinion?” Slightly less abrasive.
It may be too far fetched an idea to consider a world in which humans, with all of their complexities, could be summerised into sprinkling of words. But at least the idea of having a few more personal details on the table straight away would get things moving a little faster. In my opinion, anyway.
Originally published in The Murray Pioneer