Part 4 of Rick’s guest blog deals with the language of flatshare ads and a few over-used phrases to avoid.
Working my way through the ‘Room Wanted’ section has made me very familiar with the stock phrases people tend to use in their flatshare ads. As I said earlier, I’ve become a little more selective these days, so I tend to gravitate towards ads that have had a little more effort put into them and tell me a little about the person. Perhaps I’m a bit too cynical and judgemental in my advancing years, but an advertiser opting for the standard pre-written template (“I am a professional male aged XX looking for a single or double room in the areas specified below. I am available to move from XX/XX/XXXX and have a budget of £XXXpw. I would like to share with males or females ideally between XX and XX years old.”) tells me that if they can’t be bothered to type even one sentence about themselves or what they’re looking for, they’re not interesting enough to be my flatmate. Harsh? Probably. But as I said earlier, I can’t just have anyone.
If you do decide to write a little about yourself, it’s too easy to fall into the trap of trotting out those stock phrases I mentioned. Oh, those awful stock phrases… I can’t begin to tell you how many times I read exactly the same sentence over and over and over again. Here are a few examples of what not to write:
“I work hard and play hard” – This is a godawful cliché, conjuring up all sorts of images of odious cityboy types. And not in a good way.
“I’m as happy out partying as I am curled up on the sofa watching a DVD with a glass of wine” or the variant “I like going out, but I also like staying in” – It’s a statement of the obvious. And why is it always a glass of wine? Why is it never a nice cup of tea, or, in my case, a large glass of Vimto?
“I’m fun and a bit wacky at times” – Anyone who uses the word ‘fun’ or especially ‘wacky’ to describe themselves is almost certainly a loud, annoying idiot with ADD. Remember Colin Hunt, the office joker character in The Fast Show? That’s the sort of person I’m talking about. Do you want to live with him? Neither do I.
“I’m not religious but I am a very spiritual person” – This is meaningless, pretentious twaddle, usually trotted out by people who like to think of themselves as quite deep.
“I’m not a party animal but I do like a few glasses of wine after work/to let my hair down at weekends” – A few glasses of wine after work? I’d hate to be around when you’re really going for it…
“I’m looking for open-minded flatmates” – What dark habits are you hiding?
Sorry… I’m getting a bit scathing there! I’m not being entirely serious. All too often though, people tend to describe themselves as they might on a dating website, and wading through the ‘Room Wanted’ section turns up these and other stock phrases time and again. Most of them are harmless and innocuous enough, of course, and the worst thing they mean is just a lack of imagination. But one or two do hint at potential ‘issues’ that may make them a less than ideal flatmate. As I said earlier, I find myself being more selective these days, and if I’m searching for someone to come and share my home, I find myself drawn towards people who have taken a bit of time and care over their advert.