ARTS & CULTURE EDITOR
If there is one word that should be eliminated from the English language, it is the word basic. As a term that can literally be used to describe anything, it has found a new home in our everyday language as a way to denote unoriginality and conformity to popular trends. Its extremely negative connotation and frequent use have made it a dangerous weapon and has led to over-generalizations and abuse that targets certain items, actions, and even people. At its most basic level, the word is an identity killer.
Consider the items commonly referred to as basic: Beats headphones, Sperry Top-Siders footwear, Lululemon athletic wear and The North Face jackets just to name a few. What makes them basic? Besides being extremely popular items, the answer is that I don’t really know. Items become popular the same way music becomes popular the same way sayings become popular: a lot of people use them.
Now I completely understand the desire that people have to be original. Everybody wants to feel as if they have the power in the decisions they make and the act of straying from the norm can bring a sense of pride and independence with it. It is an individual act that affects nobody but the person making it.
The problem is that people are unsatisfied with simply choosing to avoid something due to its popularity. There is an urge to defend that decision and the word of choice these days is basic.
It is a simple formula: people identify something as basic, someone is seen wearing or doing something basic and then that person is categorized as a basic person.
If nothing else comes out of this column then remember this: people are not basic. People are not basic. People are not basic.
I’ve always been told that you need to repeat something at least three times for it to be internalized, so there it is. By calling a person basic, it belittles them to the lowest and simplest level of humanity. It utilizes one aspect of them to characterize their entire being as common and even insignificant.
While it has become difficult to walk through the SLP without hearing the word constantly echoing off the walls, all hope is not lost. We can remove it as quickly as we introduced it. No two human beings are alike; even identical twins have different personalities. Therefore, rather than destroying identities through the avenue of commonality, why not dig a little deeper and celebrate the difference? Embrace the unique aspects of each person and put that b-word to rest. Unless it is being used to describe the pH of soap, it shouldn’t be used at all.