Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cliché Alert: "The Culture of . . ."

I read this headline the other day and was trying to figure out why it bothered me.

A culture of nagging helps California save wate
It seems to me that this phrase, "The culture of . . ." has been applied to so many things now that it's losing any serious meaning. 
Here are some examples I found googling "the culture of":

The Culture of Victimhood.

The Culture of Humiliation

The Culture of Drinking

The Culture of Fear

The Culture of Big Data

The Culture of Command.

The Culture of Criticism

This use of the term doesn't seem to fit the normal ways culture is defined.  The closest I could find was this definition:
the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group:
the youth culture; the drug culture.

In some cases, it's a way of attacking an idea.  The culture of victimhood is used to attack the idea of micro aggression.   In other cases it may be closer to describing something like a subculture - a group of people with a similar set of general characteristics - like the culture of drinking.

At this point I'm not sure why this bothers me.  There's nothing wrong with coming up with new words and phrases to capture ideas that don't already have a word.  But this trend seems more like a lazy man's way of sounding deeper than he really is.  Just add "the culture of" to any phrase and it sounds almost like a serious scholarly study.  But some of these uses have no depth at all. 

Really.   Has California culture changed to where nagging is now a major characteristic of people living in the sunshine state?  Or does the author simply mean - 'nagging water wasters is becoming more prevalent?" 

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