It seemed like I was hearing it everywhere. It started with my boyfriend telling me recently about a coworker from the ski resort he worked at last winter. She had a fondness for a certain shovel and would proclaim, “This is my shovel. There are many like it, but this one is mine!”
Then, a couple days ago, a friend posted a photo of his breakfast on Facebook and wrote, “This is my breakfast. There are many like it, but this one is mine!”
It seemed like everyone was saying, “This is my _______. There are many like it, but this one is mine.” I became fixated, so I did some research and found out it comes from the rifleman’s creed that the United States Marines say. It starts, “This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.”
I can’t say that I know a lot of military or gun enthusiasts, so it seems more likely that they picked it up from the creed’s influence on pop culture. For instance, it was popularized in the classic war movie Full Metal Jacket.
But I imagine just as many people learned it from Family Guy when it took the creed’s formula and, just like the people I mentioned earlier, changed out the word rifle:
This happens a lot—when you learn a new word or phrase, and then you seemingly see and hear it everywhere. The phenomenon has a name: Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. The reason it got its name seems to be a result of that very phenomenon.
As Alan Bellows explains in this fascinating article about it:
It seems likely that some individual learned of the existence of the historic German urban guerrilla group which went by that name, and then heard the name again soon afterwards. This plucky wordsmith may then have named the phenomenon after the very subject which triggered it.
Something tells me you’ll be hearing more about Baader-Meinhof very soon. You’ll probably hear it everywhere.
Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of editing, coaching, and social media packages.
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