George Orwell used to say that our civilization (he meant the western one) is decadent, and our language must inevitably share in the general collapse (he meant the western languages, of course). What he already knew was that in the name of winning the political game (and complete annihilation of the perceived enemy), language was being corrupted to obscure the harsh realities of an all-out war. But even as he invented newspeak, he couldn’t oversee what the maybe well-intentioned but ham-fisted and fascistic political correctness would achieve at the beginning of the 21st Century.
Demons: it’s ironic that in an increasingly secularism-fanatic society, this word has found acceptance, especially to denote that a person has a “tortured soul”. People cannot speak candidly about God, but ironically secularism has brought religious imagery to avoid the use of words like vice, and depravity. Yep. It’s easier to be ambiguous and tell somebody is “fighting his/her own demons” than being plain degenerate or dissolute. That person’s self-esteem might thank you for glorifying his/her despicable behavior.
Survivor: “No one gets out of this world alive”, said Hank Williams. Does that make us that still live survivors each passing day? In the most broad sense of the word, yes. But survivor was a word reserved for people coming alive from cataclysms or accidents. Now, a person that quits his/her vices… er, fights his/her demons and wins, is a survivor. More vague but stultifying language to merely denote somebody has enough willpower, an almost forbidden notion in everyday parlance.
Hero: it’s almost that if you are a survivor, you must be a hero. But no, everybody’s a hero nowadays. Hero is basically a super cliché. You are a good husband? You are a hero. You are a good parent? You are a hero. You do exactly what was expected from you? Congratulations, you are a hero. Extraordinary feats are now out of the question; just everybody is a hero by doing good (but everyday) deeds.
Celebrate: as in “celebrate diversity.” First was tolerance, then acceptance, now celebration. Life is harsh (duh) and the most well-adjusted people don’t spend their lives celebrating; mostly they tolerate and endure hardship. Acceptance is tricky: our ancestors accepted electricity, but rejected slavery after awhile. See?
Not to mention those who confuse crassness with sincerity, sincerity with civility, and civility with THE ONLY acceptable political discourse, a nightmarish rigmarole that paradoxically squelches free speech.