Quirky phrases that must be phase out in 2020


Life, Health

Let’s cancel ‘OK Boomer’ in 2020, and the humblebrag, too.

Let’s leave the humble brag behind, along with a few other oversaturated, cloying or just plain silly cultural quirks that deserve a big goodbye. (Photo: AP)

Either loudly sing your own praises or don’t in the new year, but let’s leave the humble brag behind, along with a few other oversaturated, cloying or just plain silly cultural quirks that deserve a big goodbye.

Among them are pop-up shops, cancel culture and the ever-present “OK Boomer” retort on social media. With much ado about something, here’s our annual Over It list of things that should remain in 2019:


Wearing two timepieces has been around since the 18-century dandy and his double pocket watches, intended to culturally elevate as opposed to making sure he was really, really on time. Later, Marlon Brando pulled off the two-wrist tango but, you know, he was Brando. Young celebs have caught on, Chris Pratt, Johnny Depp and Drake included. These days it’s all about the digital add-on, plus a statement piece. Can you see our side eyes?

Email receipts

Firstly, huge thanks for your out of office responses. Those are gold, but please stop asking for receipts. Learn to live with the suspense like the rest of us as to when we read or do not read your missives, either email, text or otherwise. The same goes for when we most likely do or perchance do not delete said missives at our convenience. Our inbox. Our rules. Keep your curiosity and aggressive email tactics to yourself.


For the truly humble, we appreciate you. For the passive-aggressive, not so much. Merriam-Webster sums up the humblebrag nicely: “To make a seemingly modest, self-critical, or casual statement or reference that is meant to draw attention to one’s admirable or impressive qualities or achievement.” Just own yourself. The dictionary titans say the term has been around since 2002. It was later popularized by the comedian, TV producer and writer Harris Wittels, who died in 2015.


There’s one for ketchup. There’s one for ice cream. There’s one for “Friends.” There are tons with the sole mission of selling you merch, as opposed to selling you merch while also being mildly entertaining. The Business of Fashion notes that Amazon and other digital disruptors have contributed to traditional retailers closing thousands of stores. The prime but empty real estate is up for grabs on short-term leases for ever-rotating tenants. Pop-ups are now a “strategy” on both ends, from commercial land barons to the sellers of goods, luxury to goofy. Some aren’t mad about it. We’re all popped out.

Cancel the cancelers

There’s nothing wrong with calling out bad behavior, a bad person or bad practices, especially the kind that are truly threatening and make people feel unsafe. There is most definitely something wrong with the mob mentality that swirls on social media unchecked. The cancel culture is often stoked by sheeples with no interest in drilling down to truths. Mean for mean’s sake or 100 percent willing to gulp gossip is not cool. We say, think before you cancel. We need cancel truth. Unite!

Boomer backlash

Once upon a time in Memeland there was an older dude who trashed Millennials and Gen-Zers for Peter Pan syndrome. For that, younger folks have declared 2019 the year of “OK, Boomer,” as in Baby Boomer. Not that the yoots and their pejorative for intransigence, intolerance and tech phobia among their elders is entirely wrong, mind you. It’s just time to calm down a bit. The phrase “OK, Boomer” has a richer history. As the legend goes, it surfaced on Reddit in 2009 and on 4chan in 2015. According to The Boston Globe, TikTok videos with the “OkBoomer” tag have been watched more than 44 million times and counting.

Influencer fatigue

Is it the end of the line for influencers? Greg Petro, writing for Forbes.com, declared in November: “Consumers, especially younger ones, are losing trust in paid influencers and looking instead to organic grassroots communities where their like-minded peers are sharing content and commentary about brands and products they actually love.” Rock on, Greg! Side note, exactly how many followers does one need to score an influencer gig? Asking for a friend.

Reviews and surveys

Everybody is looking for feedback of all kinds, all the time. Don’t be so needy! Just send the toilet brush. Your survey doesn’t just take “a minute.” You have all the reviews you need. If we had something to say, we’d say it. We’re putting the incessant requests for service and purchase reviews and surveys high on the annoying list alongside the onslaught of robocalls.

Spousal gushing

It’s your anniversary. It’s your wife’s birthday. We get it. You’re married or you have an otherwise significant other and you want your social media world to know all about how you actually feel about the big day, the big event, so you post a pic, and your words go something like this: “To my angel spouse, the perfect love of my life. You complete me.” The reality at home might be more like this: “If you eat my leftovers, I will end you!” Or maybe true love is alive and flourishing. Love is grand, but in the words of 4-year-olds the world over: “Ewwwww.” In the words of far more cynical grown ups, “Get a room!”