Boilerplates and Clichés

When looking for examples of boilerplates, I geared my research towards the homepage , the “About Us” and other similar pages of websites. I stumbled upon the “About SCU” page of the Santa Clara University website (the university that I almost attended before I decided to come to Michigan), and I immediately noticed a boilerplate in one of the very first sentences on the page: “We are committed to leaving the world a better place”. This statement could not be more vague if it tried. Who is “we”? The faculty? The students? The donors? How is it committed? Through its academics? Through its campus philanthropy work? Through its environmental involvement? And lastly, what is a “better place”? A happier place? A safer place? A more educated place? Upon reading the statement at first, a reader understands what the website is attempting to say. But after deeper analyzing it, they realize that the statement is extremely vague and could be applied to just about any group, organization, company, or institution.
Clichés have always been a difficult concept for me to wrap my mind around. I think it is one of those topics that is so easy to understand that it is difficult. But in my attempt to think of a cliché, this is what I came up with: “No offense but….”. This is a statement that we have all heard before, and most likely dreaded the rest of the sentence to follow. It is also a statement that we have all said before, most likely to lessen the pain of the following insult of brutal truth. However, because it is used so often, it has lost its original meaning. When these words were first spoken, they were likely used out of genuine care in an attempt to lessen the hurt feelings of someone dear. Now, however, it is just the preliminary phrase that is spoken to justify an insult or cruel comment. In fact, it has almost adopted a cruel tone and connotation in itself. It’s strange how over use can alter the entire meaning of a few seemingly simple and innocent words.

One thought to “Boilerplates and Clichés”

  1. The “About Us” section was also where my mind went when it came to boilerplates. Looking at different Universities, their descriptions all follow the same format, saying the same things… basically nothing. Looking at cliches, I hadn’t really considered “No offense but…”, but for as often as it is used, it definitely fits the category.

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