Indeed, it was featured three years ago in a New York Times column by Anand Giridharadas, who examined the current usage, gathering the opinions of experts and finally speculating on the fact that in a world in which communication is fragmented and there is so much competition for our attention, the use of “so” is our effort “to be heard,” and he concludes: “We insist, time and again, that this is it; this is what you’ve been waiting to hear; this is the ‘so’ moment.”
My concern is not based on linguistics or psychology, as interesting as those topics are; it’s more about what the use of “so” to begin every sentence does to “messaging” – the ever-important PR tool.
As I listen to media interviews on the radio or watch them on television, I hear “so” at the start of responses to questions so frequently that it’s hard to ignore.
Interviewer: “What is the nature of your business?” Response: “So our main product is information.” Interviewer: “That’s a pretty broad topic. What do you mean by that?” Response: “So we collect and analyze data for surveys and productivity studies.”
You get the idea.
This is the problem with crutch words in general, and “so” is only the latest to join the crowd. Well, like, um, uh and the ubiquitous you know are all distracting fillers. What’s even more of a concern, the use of these words seems to be contagious. We often hear them a few times and begin using them ourselves. Like weeds in our gardens, we must be ever-vigilant to keep crutch words from invading our vocabulary.
These words are a serious impediment to good communication, and they can completely overshadow your message points in a media interview.