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JIM ‘PAPPY’ MOORE: It Isn’t What It Isn’t

By Jim “Pappy” Moore 

It isn’t what it isn’t.  I offer this simple sentence as the rebuttal to the ever present “it is what it is” in modern usage.  Of all the sayings I hear used in major media by all manner of individuals, professional and otherwise, none currently exceeds “it is what it is” for its volume of usage.  I dare you to watch an hour of local news and see if you can find one hour of such telecasts without someone saying “it is what it is.”  As a retort to “it is what it is,” I invite you to reply to all such uses of the term with “it isn’t what it isn’t.”  That covers all possibilities, and it is just as useful in adding to the quality of the conversation.

I love studying our language and how it evolves.  It is common for phrases to enter the fray and become part of the parlance.  Hardly a political discussion of any kind can take place without a commentator saying that someone got thrown under the bus.  It is unclear why being thrown under the bus is worse than being thrown under the train, or under the eighteen-wheeler, or under the bulldozer, or under the tractor.  The more we throw people under the bus, the less we push the envelope.  I suppose that is a good result, since we have pushed the envelope for far too long.

An interesting aspect is that I find older sayings much more acceptable than newer ones.  When I hear newer phrases such as “it is what it is,” I can’t help but think “that dog won’t hunt.”  When they use “throwing him under the bus” ad nauseam, I want to scream “say it ain’t so, Joe!”  So maybe it’s the not the phrase that drives me up the wall, but the fact that I am more comfortable with the sayings I have grown accustomed to hearing and using all my life. 

Maybe that’s why I know where you’re coming from, but I’m not prepared for the paradigm shift you may find intriguing.  Maybe that’s why I find “you’re welcome” so pleasing and “no problem” so annoying when used in response to a simple “thank you” for clerical assistance.

“At the end of the day” has emerged as a recent favorite in modern media.  Whether the commentator is speaking of politics, economics, sports, or some reality show contest, before the end of each show, we will be told at least once how something will be “at the end of the day.”  Apparently, saying “the end result will be Lebron James signs a new NBA contract with Miami, Cleveland or Los Angeles” is simply too clear for modern usage.  At the end of the day, “at the end of the day” is an unnecessary phrase which is superfluous. 

The digital age and its millennials must have their own word for a photo one takes of oneself.  Hence, the “selfie” has found almost overnight currency in our language.  An instant photo lacks the catchy flavor conveyed by sending an instagram.  Apparently, taking photos of your plate of food and sending it instantly to everyone you know is now part of ordinary life.  Remember when we used to take photos of our dinner (which we called “supper”) and immediately took those photos to our friends and relatives to show them what we just ate?  Oh, wait, we never found a need to do that.

It is what it is.  And it isn’t what it isn’t.  Hashtag annoying.  Hashtag unnecessary.

Copyright 2014, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.

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