When creating various advertising and propaganda, there seems to be a drive to narrow the focus of thought in the audience. All is emotional, all is now. Fear and the unknown loom.It got me thinking. I've seen much the same thing in other contexts. I teach several accounting classes. I eventually had to institute a virtual ban on the words Enron, WorldCom, and Arthur Andersen. The reason for this is that both in classroom discussions and in papers I found that students thought they could explain almost anything by mentioning one of these things. Things like, "With scandals like Enron it's obvious we must ..." were practically every where.
"In times like these" seems both to allude to prior, similar times, and to retire them from consideration. You know, "these times". You wouldn't want to look dumb in public by asking "To what specific time to you refer?" of the speaker. That would be rude. Everyone else is shaking their heads knowingly.
Students almost never felt the need to actually explain what Enron had to do anything with they were talking about. It was a convenient crutch. I finally put out a notice in my syllabus that these companies could not be mentioned unless the student could explain the relevance with specificity. Almost immediately all references to these companies disappeared. The papers got much better too.