Please just stop using that word.
Ranting at random strangers isn’t classy. It’s not classy when you do it on the street, and it seems even less so when you do it on the internet. But I’m going to indulge myself anyway.
It’s the growing online use of the word ‘hack’. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve no issue with its more usual technological meaning – (from Wikipedia) “a quick, elaborate and/or bodged solution [to a] technical obstacle, or a clever or quick fix to a computer program problem”. That’s fine.
But what grates on my nerves, like proverbial fingernails down a blackboard, is that now the internet is awash with ‘travel hacks’, ‘bicycle hacks’, ‘brain hacks’, ‘life hacks’ and even ‘Japan hacks’. Most of the time the offenders could simply write ‘information’. But that’s not so geek-sexy, is it. Other times it refers to hints or tips. So say so. It can also mean, at its simplest and most mundane, ‘stuff that’s fun to do, hur hur.”
I know as an English teacher the last thing I should be doing is railing against the evolution of the English language. The ability of the English language to mutate and evolve with each generation, and now even quicker in the internet generation, is one of its greatest strengths.
But this kind of linguistic abuse is just obfuscation. These are lazy writers using weasel words for nefarious means – for hiding ill intent, or for presenting the dull as exciting. As someone very astute (and very earthy) once noted, “You can’t polish a turd.” But surfing the internet these days is an exercise in dodging people who are busily trying to work up a shine.