A Pox on Not



Not is a perfectly fine word. When used in conjunction with other words. In a sentence.

I grew up when the free-floating “not” was at the pinnacle of popularity. Oh, how clever we were, saying the opposite of what we meant, then making our real feelings known by shouting “not!”

It was annoying and the older I got, the more annoying it became. Thankfully, the more annoying I found it, the less I actually heard it. It died out. Or so I thought.

In the past several months, I’ve noticed a resurgence. Maybe it’s always been there in the background and I just haven’t been paying attention, but recently, I’ve seen the snide, smart alecky “not” used in blog posts and trade e-articles.

Is it the online nature of these posts that lends itself to childish behaviors? Are the authors reliving their glory days?

I have trouble believing it’s the latter because I have always assumed these authors to be older than me. Why? There’s nothing explicit in their bios, it’s the gravitas with which they present their views on writing, online marketing and what-have-you that makes me think they’re older. Perhaps I’m just showing my own fears of inadequacy, that I assume all experts are light-years older than I am.

But despite the authors’ ages and whether they’re reliving their glory days in prose or whether they’re just now catching the 90s slang-wave, THE USE OF “NOT” HAS TO STOP.


For starters, it’s annoying and childish and reminds me of a time when I thought wearing coral lipstick and five Swatches on one wrist at the same time was cool. All of those, I assure you, are not cool, thus, guilt by association, means that “not” is not cool. So stop using it!

Next, it reminds me of a time when I thought wearing coral lipstick and five Swatches on one wrist at the same time was cool. Which means that not only is it decidedly not cool, it’s old. Like taping your favorite song off the radio old, like owning a Walkman old, like orange type on your black screen monitor old. And if you’re old like that, can I really trust you? If your linguistic references are cringe worthy, your writing advice probably is too. And if you’re vocab is stuck in the 90s, how can I be sure that your cutting edge online marketing advice is really all that current? If you want me to take you seriously, stop using it!

And this is where you drop in and tell me that I’m wrong, oh so wrong! That everyone’s saying it and always have been. That I’m the one that’s out of touch.

Go ahead, set me straight in the comments.

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische


One thought on “A Pox on Not

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