Ocean City Today

Have an impact

The Public Eye
By Stewart Dobson | Mar 01, 2018



printed 03/02/2018


If there’s one word I hate … Let me rephrase that: One of the hundreds of the many contemporary words I hate is “impact,” as in I hope my comments impact you.

I also hope, however, that should these words impact you, that they don’t leave a mark or, even worse, a crater, such as was created in the ocean near the Yucatan Peninsula a few million years back when a meteor the size of Delaware impacted the earth.

Now that’s what you call a real impact, as opposed to the negative impact of dumb writing of the impactful kind.

Because people don’t know the difference between affect and effect, the latter being a thing mostly and the former being an action, they have resorted to using impact to mean either.

More simply put, people don’t want to suffer the public embarrassment of misusing a word, so they misuse a different word to disguise it.

In a way, it’s like shaving your dog’s head so no one will notice that his other end is scooting down Main Street like a Formula 1 race car.

Even though common use of impact has earned it acceptance in most, if not all, English dictionaries, it continues to grind on me, especially when it’s employed by those cumulonimbutt weather people who labor mightily to scare us to death.

“This huge weather system moving east will impact 70 million people.”

Impacted where exactly and how badly?

Suffice to say you certainly wouldn’t drop into your neighborhood clinic and say, “Doctor, I’m feeling impacted” because something not good could happen, although I suspect it would have a lasting impact.

Thirty years ago, one would hear about 70 million people being impacted and think: “Wow, that’s gotta hurt.” Nevermind the matter of whose job it will be to separate them afterwards.

But today? The impact of impact is not as impactful as it used to be, because change, as they say, has been effected. Or is it affected?

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