Do a 180 on "backslash"

I heard an in-store ad at Rite Aid that named the store’s website and included “backslash” in the address. I checked the website and found slashes but no backslashes. Although I performed a cursory investigation and can’t be sure the site has no backslashes, I suspect that the ad writer, like many others, doesn’t know the difference between a slash and a backslash. A slash (/) is a traditional punctuation mark, and a backslash is rare. I remember seeing the backslash in the 1990s when I had to type file names to save information — now that seems like something Australopithecus would use —but I’m unaware of it in other uses. I suspect that people learned that term in those Cro-Magnon computer days, retained the word, and now, because people repeat what they hear without pondering the meaning of a term, use it when they should say “slash.”
The same is true of 180 versus 360. For a long time people said “a 180-degree change” or “do a 180” to refer to a reversal in behavior, attitude, or thinking. Now people are saying “do a 360.” That is wrong and again indicates parroting a phrase without forethought. The numbers refer to the degrees in a circle — a circle has 360 degrees, that number derived from astronomy and the moon — and half a circle is 180 degrees, so turning halfway around is a 180-degree change. If you “do a 360,” you’re still going in the same direction or behaving in the same manner.
People love colloquialisms, but they should think before they speak. That of course applies to more than just proper use of language, and we would all be well off to practice more silence and less talking.

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