Even If You Don’t Understand, Buzzwords Will Make You Sound In-The-Know


The moment I knew the BP oil spill was serious was the first time I heard the term “top kill.” As an avid video game enthusiast, hearing the term during my morning commute tuned into KCRW, Los Angeles’ NPR affiliate, was like a shotgun firing down my spine. In my semi-delusional state (I’ve taken to drinking coffee after arriving at work to allow for maximum sleepage), the words top kill awoke me from fading away into the gray skies of the Angeleno dubbed June Gloom. But whereas I assumed NPR was reporting on the new HALO: REACH beta testing, I became aware of something much more life-threatening and pressing. Within hours, people around me were using the term as if it were the first words they’d ever spoken. “Oh well, sure the top kill could work but what about all those fish!”… “Dude, no way the top kill will be successful”… It was as if I had awoken from a dream in a post-apocalyptic, blood-currency wasteland where people were using terms of weaponry and violence as water-cooler talk. Despite having a vague understanding of what the term meant, I couldn’t shake the Mad Max and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 imagery from my mind.

This is classic of the media today, though. Whatever political pundit or news media doofus latched onto the term in a moment of elevated exasperation, the phrase was destined to become the talk of business meetings and lunchroom arguments alike. How many times in the last few years has the media created a term, or some government official spouted off a phrase that has become more than a viral video or internet meme, but an actual buzzword enveloped by the collective unconscious. People found themselves uttering the phrase, myself included, without warning or any effort to understand what it meant. A Google search results in mostly news articles but this gem is straight from the horse’s mouth: a jpeg diagram explaining the phrase from none other than BP. Click below to see bigger image.

Top Kill is an oil company operation, not the Hollywood re-boot of Top Gun

Of course the procedure didn’t work. With a name as buzzwordy as top kill it was never going to work. While I have yet to form any substantial opinion on the matters in the gulf, I do find it amusing that people use silly sounding explanations for things they don’t understand so quickly in this day and age. How can you not? If you sit at a computer with Facebook, Twitter, CNN, and The Huffington Post open in various tabs all day, it’s impossible to not succumb to it completely. I hope the government finds a solution soon though, or it will just become one more thing the Republicans can use against Obama next election [that they directly caused]. Just watch as Oil Spill is added to the list of Obama’s shortcomings including Failed War on Terror and Healthcare: all things that were created or failed under the guise of Republican foresight.

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