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Sonoma County Gazette
Senior Momentum by Zoe Tummillo

The Value of Cliché

Oct 6, 2018
by Zoë Tummillo, Communications Concepts


For one thing, Cliché’s have a certain “commonality” that can instantly unify us — or move us apart!  (Depending upon the cliché, of course!) Time flies — can’t believe the year is almost over!  Surely, we can hear each other chiming in on that one as summer ends, the leaves begin to turn and the tree nuts fall.  It’s easy to agree time moves fast — and relentlessly, cliché notwithstanding.

Even in sobering, serious matters when it is almost impossible to speak frankly, we fall back onto the tried, true and trite: cliché. Alas!  Sometimes the tired cliché says it best!  Ever notice just a little bit of irritation when someone throws one out and it fits like a glove?

I think two of our biggest arenas where cliché literally rules are politics and religion!  Those arenas have so much in common — like peas in a pod.  Neither seems to worry much about proofs, both have followings that often defy logic and cliché lends itself so well to favorite tools — repetition and rote.  It seems, for politics or religion, the point of seeking better semantics is neither here nor there.

Cliché can even help us out at times of grief — sorry for your loss ... time heals all wounds ...  Cliché helps us with so many awkward moments when we perhaps don’t know what to say, or don’t want to risk saying what we really mean!  So, we cop out with comments like: well, that’s food for thought ...or ...I’ll get back to you!

With some politics, cliché gets elevated to an importance it simply does not deserve – if for no reason but that its use can insult the importance of significant contexts!  Ever yell at the TV when you hear dismissive clichés with offensive implications like Boys will be boys or she’s just making a mountain out of a molehill? Hmmm?   In the process of encouraging people to vote, I hate the one about one vote doesn’t matter... I hear it more often than you might think. 

I counter with No! Every vote counts!  (I have no idea if it ever makes a difference — I just hope some clichés do.)

Taking the easy way out with conversation is a choice most of us have made more than once about something! How about the one where you bump into someone you have been out of touch with for a long time – the old faithful escape line? Let’s do lunch!  It doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to call and actually schedule lunch... But, it moves things along.

I recall again a college professor cautioning us young wannabe writers:  Clichés are word crutches.   A word crutch I really dislike is: Never argue about politics or religion. (Actually, an axiom can become cliché.)  I dislike that one, especially at times like today’s political climate, because I think we must not be silent.  If we do not take some uncomfortable talk risks and discuss and argue, how can we understand our adversaries?  How better to re-examine our own positions and respect and reinforce the importance of diversity? It’s now or never...

Many avoid political or religious discussions because they resent others who insist (with their arguments) that they are right, and the other point of view is wrong.    It’s a reasonable enough assertion, and a reasonable enough objection; kinda.   The opportunity to grow through oppositional dialogue is worth a fight for ground rules!  Let’s just share our perspectives; don’t try to convert me! Consider the value in simple cliché.   It’s plentiful, familiar, helpful, traditional, handy and useful — waste not, want not!



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