There's a place for the creation of new vocabulary, but only if it helps to clarify ideas and concepts, not obfuscate them, believes writer Ben Schott.
"I'm not someone who thinks that language shouldn't change, and I think that neologisms and new words are incredibly useful when there's something new to express," Schott told radio show host John Hockenberry on an recent episode of The Take Away.
Schott is the author of Inc.'s Jargonator column.
"We need words like Wi-Fi and Ethernet and cyberspace because these concepts did not exist, and we have to have terms for them," he said.
On the other hand, there's a long list of words that appeared on the scene this year that don't fulfill this need. Therefore, everyone would probably be better off if those terms just fell into oblivion.
But, unfortunately, buzzwords are catchy.
"I think these things have becomes tics, and I think what they do is they manage to sort of fill space. Like ers and ums, I think a lot of these phrases are just holding patterns while we think about what we want to say," Schott said.
Schott has compiled a list of buzzwords he'd like to see retired this year. You'll find them below along with a few other terms that are wearing on Inc. readers.
In marketing, the term influencer is used to refer to people who have a lot of pull with a certain market base. "However, these days it's just a jazzy way of saying, 'We're having a party. Invite all your friends as long as they have jobs and aren't crazy,'" Travis Steffen, founder of content sharing site UP, told Mashable.
This word means: delivering a consistent, seamless experience across various touch points, with the emphasis on seamless, which is always used in the same sentence. The idea is actually simple, though. "You should be able to deal with your bank from your mobile phone, iPad, or laptop and know that if you needed more information from a call center or by walking into a branch the people there would have your latest interactions with the Web site or banking app and could pick it up from there." Forbes contributor Tom Groenfeldt explains.
This occurs when the act of monitoring your behavior becomes obsessive. "Think fitness trackers, which count every step you take, every move you make, every smile you fake, every claim you stake," Schott says.
"Bankers use this word to refer to debt, and just about everyone else in business uses it as a verb, as in 'Let's leverage our company's core strengths,'" writes Inc.'s Graham Winfrey. "Let's just stop using this word altogether."
Those who dislike the term growth hacking argue that it's used to describe a job that's not at all new. "Really it's just a fancy way of saying business development or marketing," Matthew Ackerson told Mashable. Ackerson does marketing for web design company Petovera. "Not to sound cynical, but speaking as a marketer, the phrase growth hacking is really just marketers marketing marketing."
This refers to the back and forth between brands on social media. "That's right: corporate behemoths desperately tweeting 'jokes' to one another in a wretched bid for our love," Schott writes.
Big data is so 2010. Thick data is what the tech community now uses to describe not only vast amounts of data, but the context around it, according to Wired Magazine.
"Customer success is about more than delivering service or support. It's about having real-time visibility into the issues customers are facing and finding smarter ways to manage those issues to allow customers to extract maximum value from your product," Sixteen Ventures' Lincoln Murphy says. Murphy happens to be a growth hacker.
This one's a perennial but deserves dishonorable mention for how long it's stuck around, like toenail fungus. Synergy refers to marginal gain or increased efficiency that comes from the marriage of two things. While this definition isn't all that cumbersome, people are getting tired of hearing the word. "It is completely overused, and comes across as generic business-speak," says Inc. reader Steve Green.
It means to voluntarily converse with brands via bots. The Wall Street Journal's Christopher Mims explained why this might become a thing: "What if the metaphorical 'conversation' marketers always claim to be having with us became literal?" he mused.