Every once in awhile, a word will take over America.

Back in the late 2000s and early 2010s, it was totes. Remember that phase? Things were totes crazy. Your new girlfriend is totes pretty. Do I want to have a drink on Friday night? Totes.

No word has captured America and the internet like totes, but there are phrases in the vernacular that are both popular and stupid at the same time. For example, it was trendy for a few years to talk about narrative. Her narrative is dark. The movie was boring because there’s no narrative. My childhood narrative had its share of peaks and valleys.

Everything and a chocolate bar had a narrative in 2015. The word has been replaced with tell the story, and now everybody is walking around trying to be storytellers of their boring lives. As a professional storyteller, I sorta hate it. I’d ask you if I want to hear your story. Can you please make my coffee faster?

A few years ago, probably closer to mid-2013, we were in peak right. That Costco near the house is slow, right? The quarterly reports are due and it sucks, right? Right, these pants are ugly?

People mean what they say whether they know it or not. When people add the word right to a sentence, they’re making a declarative statement and fighting against the divided attention in our society, right?


We’ve still got a lot of rights in our vocabulary, but it’s not as popular as it was in 2016. Although it’s still hanging on, unlike literally, which is literally on the decline.

But here’s some good news: we’ve got a new phrase that’s lighting the world on fire: think about it. This phrase is on the rise, and I believe we’ve reached peak think about it. From television to movies to general conversations, everybody is emphasizing their finer points with think about it!

Again, we say what we mean. The world is so noisy, and, as communicators, we’re trying to tell people that we’re saying something important. Think about it.

What’s hilarious to me is that peak “think about it” is intersecting with a strong trend of “right.” So what you have are sentences like these:

Think about it, right? Right? Think about it!

If I had a nickel for everybody who talks like this, I’d have enough cash to fund my summer vacation up to Seattle, then Vancouver, then Bowen Island, then Squamish, then on to Whistler with a stop in Pemberton, and then a drive back to Seattle to fly home. We still haven’t planned this vacation because I’m busy, but, think about it, the vacation sounds awesome.

I don’t mind when I hear think about it because we need a more mindful society that thinks before it acts. I just wish we had a culture of communication where we think before we speak. Think about it, right? That could be cool.

So if you’re speaking to anybody shortly, mind your think about its and rights. You want to stand out by saying something interesting and compelling, but you won’t stand out if you sound like everybody else.


  1. “Right?” or its variation “I know, right?” always confused me when I first started hearing them. I didn’t know why people were asking me to agree with the thing I just said. Totes unclear.

    Another one I’ve noticed, at least in my circles, is the substitution of “humans” instead of “people” which, while not technically wrong, makes the speaker sound like an alien or a robot who doesn’t grasp the nuances of communication. Maybe Humans of New York is to blame for that one.

  2. Like, if, like, we, like, could, like, get past peak “like” I would, like, like that.

  3. This might be crossing over into “business buzzwords”, but the two that got on my nerves were “game changer” and, most irritating to me, “leverage”.

    Leverage your game-changing narrative!

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