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Reach Out And Cliche Someone

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I've been wanting to get this out of my system for sometime. It makes my skin crawl when someone uses the euphemism, "reach out," as in, "we wanted to reach out to you making you aware of our new product" or "we've reached out to John Doe to join us for our meeting on the 30th." Ugh!

"Reach out" implies a intimate yearning for human connection that I just don't think the average PR flack/corporate hack/busy executive, oh let's not mince words—corporate tool—sincerely means when they sprinkle it in every other email/twitter/voicemail/conversation.

Let me be clear, it's obnoxious. Unless you like coming across as insincere and affected, then ignore my plea and keep "reaching out." Otherwise, enough already!

I don't know what has brought this on in recent years. Perhaps, its a pathetic attempt to infuse a little human warmth in our otherwise chilly impersonal electronic communications. That's my theory, for what it's worth.

In the meantime, here's a couple of key milestones in the history of "reach out," the cliche:

1970 - "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)"

Diana Ross made this her first solo single after leaving The Supremes. It was written by Motown songwriting duo, Ashford and Simpson. As syrupy sweet as it was, it only got to #20 on the pop charts. Regardless, Ross made it a concert standard for decades. I remember seeing her perform it at the Erwin Center in Austin in 1983. It was a big audience participation number requiring strangers to hold hands and sway to the beat, while small children were brought up on stage to do the same with Ross. Yes, syrupy sweet. But, I was there and somehow it didn't cross the line to saccharine. There was still hope at this point.

Late 1970's - Bell Systems debuts "Reach Out and Touch Someone" television ad campaign

It has to be one of the most famous, if not hum-able, television jingles of all time; "reach out, reach out and touch someone. Reach out, reach out and just say 'hi.'" Most remember it as an AT&T ad. AT&T actually inherited the jingle after the break-up of the Bells and ran it even further into the ground during the 80's. The first Bell ad literally featured happy campers parting ways all smiles knowing friendship would endure by just phoning it in once in awhile.

Who knew this was an innocent foreshadowing of the coming death of sincere interpersonal communications?

Last updated: Nov 23, 2010




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