Get Off The Banter Bus
I'm sure that's all high school and college teachers have been hearing since the airing of Educating The East End back in September, the notorious "bantarrr" moment sparking an epidemic of students misusing the word all year.
And I have the utmost sympathy.
There is nothing wrong with banter; people have been using it forever to poke fun at their friends and showing off as they try to be witty and quick and, well, banterous (because that is apparently a word now). But when did banter become an organised event?
I know for a fact that in my old high school some of the boys in the Sixth Form took to having a "Banter Table" where they played cards and (I quote) "had banter" - they almost certainly had their quips and laughs meticulously timed as well. It is now an activity, something that some cocky students will probably try to put on their CVs as an extracurricular involvement, that is almost scheduled into conversation rather than just simply happening like it used to.
In fact, "banter" isn't even banter anymore; the actual banter has been replaced by a simple exchange of the word "banter", being raucously volleyed between two people, punctuated by a few outcries at the utter outrageousness of the quips - oh the hilarity. It's also now a filler word, "um", "uh", and "like" now being joined by the word "banter" being blurted out whenever there is a pause or awkward silence in the conversation.
Even on Snapchat, if there isn't a suitable caption then "banter" will suffice, a now completely void word designed to evoke a slight chuckle or excuse anything that could be construed as offensive or inappropriate. And that's where banter starts to really bother me; instead of it being a witty exchange of harmless jibes between friends, it's now just an excuse, a 'get out of jail free' card from all blame or offence caused by the "banter" going over the line.
It's a blanket name for what it actually is, along with all the venomous, spiteful insults hurled around in high schools; that used to be called bullying, now it's "just banter-innit-can't-you-take-a-joke?" I just don't think people get that banter is supposed to be funny, harmless, and, dare I say it, friendly. I'm sure I'm not the only one in their final year(s) of high school that is experiencing this "bantarrr" phenomenon, and all the arguments and passive-aggressive Twitter battles that go along with it.
It is almost a trigger word now, you know something is about to go down, or that something utterly un-funny has just been said, with some imbecile wearing a smirk and declaring his statement as "banter", just in case nobody got it. And with a new series of Educating wherever coming to Cardiff in the near future, I for one am dreading the next infestation of a word or phrase being stripped of its meaning and tossed about like a grenade waiting to go off.
And I'm not having a go, it's just #Banter.
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