EDITORIAL: I hate the word “trending”

It seems an odd thing for a blogger to say, doesn’t it? But really, the word “trending” really gets on my nerves now and again. It’s hard to say why, but it just really rubs me the wrong way.

“Trending” should mean an idea or an event that takes on a life of its own. When something explodes on twitter, when all of a sudden everyone is talking about it, that’s an idea that’s “trending.” The Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t accept “trending” as a word, which is why I keep putting it in quotes.

Sadly though, pop-culture gurus and entertainment reporters will appear with alarming regularity to tell us what is “trending.” The result is exactly the opposite of “trending.” When someone on television tells us what is popular, it stops being a spontaneous uprising and becomes nothing more than another media-engineered hustle.

And that’s the nut of it. Regular people don’t say “trending” when they’re jumping onto the latest new thing, whether it’s “What does the fox say?” or the buzz over the Veronica Mars movie. They just start talking about it, they just group together and spontaneously grow something in our collective consciousness. Have you ever asked your neighbor what’s “trending?” I’d be willing to say you haven’t.

No, “trending” has become a way for otherwise unimportant media personalities to cloak themselves in the role of speaking for the millions of regular folks, to champion something that may never have gained national attention on its own. That’s not in itself a terrible thing. Investigative journalism finds little-known stories and brings them to a national stage. But really… does the latest “Kimye” news really merit the same level of sanctity as the Watergate investigation?

And so, even though as a social media professional it’s my job to take things that are “trending” and give them a little bump… I still can’t stand the word.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.