reaching out

I’ll reach out to you tomorrow and discuss the specifics.

This came via e-mail from a business associate a few days ago. It wasn’t the first time. In fact, it’s been occurring regularly, almost as often as I take my morning walks.

I reached out to Andrew and he was able to advise of the legislative changes.

This came from another business contact. It got me thinking:-

Frank Underwood uses it, my business colleagues use it, network news anchors use it, politicians use it, even I have used it. It’s got to the point where I can respond to an e-mail by saying something like:-

So long as we continue to reach out to our business colleagues and ensure the structure remains in tact then the future is strong and the year ahead will see growth.

This statement, of course, means absolutely nothing but the likelihood of it receiving a positive reception from those to whom it is directed is high. Why? Because the terms used, ‘reach out,’ ‘structure,’ ‘strong,’ and ‘growth,’ spell p-o-s-i-t-i-v-e. But of all those terms, ‘reach out’ is the ‘man of the moment.’ Why do we not hear the words ‘liaise,’ ‘connect,’ ‘contact,’ ‘establish,’ or any other number of potential alternatives, used in the context that ‘reach out’ has now become synonymous with?

What is it about ‘reach out’ that has made it so popular (usage-wise) and so unpopular with those that hear it used?

‘Reaching out’ used to mean ‘going that extra mile,’ making an effort to connect with those less fortunate than ourselves. Remember the song:-

Reach out and touch somebody’s hand,

make this world a better place

if you can

The song dates back to 1970, when Diana Ross released it as her first solo album, but gained kudos in 1984 at the Summer Olympics and then again in 2005 at the Live Aid Concert.

Has the term been festering under the surface since then?

Who knows?

The urban dictionary certainly doesn’t hold back. (see http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=reach+out&defid=3193244). It defines ‘reaching out’ as being;

An unfortunately creepy term that means “to contact” or similar. Brings to mind grasping and undesirable contact from strangers.

So next time you hear someone say they’re going to ‘reach out’ to you, be careful, proceed with caution and remember what your mother taught you;

Don’t talk to strangers!

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