Recent difficulties with iOS 8 heighten my suspicion of the term “accessible.” Ditto for anything claiming to be “user friendly.” When this user requires sighted assistance, the object is neither accessible nor friendly.
The phrases “accessible” and “user friendly” are provocative. They provoke a reaction beyond their brevity. I eat my “100% Natural” granola believing I am in harmony with the Universal Life Force. But “Some Assembly Required” conjures visions of bloodied knuckles and sadistic screwdrivers.
Provocative phrases are welcoming. “All Aboard!” promises adventure. And when Shania Twain warbles, “Come on over,” I eagerly hop the fence.
Provocative phrases can keep us apart. “No Vacancy” means no rest for the weary. “This seat’s taken,” kept young Forrest Gump alone and lonely on his school bus.
Provocative phrases imply deeper meaning. While “I have a headache” can kill a buzz, “We need to talk” can stop a heartbeat.
Provocative phrases serve as early warning signals. The jittery client who opens with, “I’ve stopped taking my meds,” sends my social work antennae to vibrating. Same goes for the recovering alcoholic who announces, “I’ve quit going to meetings.” Danger, danger.
Provocative phrases mobilize defenses. “Please step away from the vehicle,” means keep your mouth shut and call a lawyer. “You what?” and “what were you thinking?” prove that your goose is cooked and any defense is futile.
Provocative phrases suggest a course of action. If your boss says she is “cautiously optimistic,” update your resume.
Provocative phrases are an evasive tactic. When your teenager sums up his movements with “Here and there, out and about, this and that,” do not reply with, “When I was your age…” Rather, say “Been there, done that,” and search his room for contraband.
Provocative phrases condense verbosity. “Needless to say” and “To make a long story short” intend to conserve time and salvage brevity. Usually they accomplish neither.
Time for me to hold my breath until I’m blue in the face for that new and improved update of iOS 8, the “accessible” and “user friendly” one. Provocative phrases, against all odds, keep the faith in suckers like me.