In Today's Tedium

Photo by Garfield Anderssend / License CC BY 2.0

Photo by Garfield Anderssend / License CC BY 2.0

High school writing and college composition teachers invariably cringe whenever they read an essay that begins with "In today's society…." Something about this stock phrase appeals to countless students. Perhaps they believe it makes them sound important, up to date, and authoritative.The following first lines are lifted from term papers found online (for sale at only $14.95 each!):

  • In today's society things are being expressed and experienced at younger ages, than ever before in our time.
  • In today's society, women and man [sic] compete on somewhat of the same level.
  • In today's world, the modern person is educated, independent and aggressive.
  • Deforestation is a major concern in today's society.

And so on. As with many other clichés, there's nothing ungrammatical about the phrase "In today's society…." It’s simply unoriginal and doesn’t draw in the reader. It doesn’t inform. It's filler.

Meanwhile, here's a sampling of first lines found in major companies' online marketing materials:

  • In today's fast-paced retail economy, customers can gain access to the same products from many sources. (From SAP)
  • In today's competitive business environment, effectively managing the workforce has become a mission-critical objective. (From Oracle)
  • In today's competitive business environment, enterprise companies need to remain focused on an area of expertise. (From Sprint)
  • In today's increasingly complex and interconnected world, risks are real and increasing exponentially. (From IBM)

It appears that the students who used to write "In today's society..." for their teachers now write "In today's competitive business environment..." for their employers.

But if today's business environment really is so fast paced and competitive, these companies shouldn't expect people to waste time slogging through the same uninspired phrases that appear everywhere. They risk losing prospects' attention at the very first sentence of the sales process.