Something I hate and try not to do but catch myself doing too much is starting sentences with “S/he was one of those people who…”.
There is nothing lazier, less descriptive, more general and generic than lumping everyone together, especially when trying to nail down with some precision the nuance or detail that makes that person who s/he is, whether you love or hate him.
I try to move outside these lazy generalizations and even into different descriptive territory. Not too long ago, for example, I wrote about someone who was like a fruit fly to me, and elaborated on why.
Later, I felt that the same person is a lot like a tiny, live frog, trapped in a bag of fresh salad. Every so often, I’ve read a news story here in Sweden about someone opening a ready-to-eat bag of greens, only to witness a little frog, still alive, hop out. Me, I’d find this horrifying (the companies selling these frog-laden salads claim that live frogs prove the freshness of their goods…). In comparing a person to these frogs, though, I isolate certain aspects of the individual’s personality: living in a confined, non-reality, oblivious to the fact that she does not belong there and that that environment is inherently unhealthy and won’t lead her anywhere. She may die there.
When some unsuspecting consumer opens the bag, and she – this oblivious frog – jumps out, she is unwelcome and terrifies the person holding the bag. This can’t be happening! Even if it’s a fascinating and strange curiosity, that fascination lasts only for the briefest moment. This uninvited, intrusive guest must go.