There is no shortage of irritating things in the world, or online, but I decided I wanted to talk about some of the things that irritate me. These are mostly statements, that clearly require no thought, one person came up with each of these, and without thinking about what they’re saying many people have repeated them, and because I don’t honestly believe people are thinking about them as they say them, they drive me nuts. (I can’t think of any that I do, but I’m sure I’m guilty of this too.)
The first is this dumb meme phrase “That Awkward Moment…”, you might be looking at it and thinking “what’s wrong with that, Mike?” I have never seen one that is a complete thought. It’s always “That Awkward moment when” followed by a thing happening or being realized, followed by no final thought. A complete thought would be “That awkward moment when you thought you could wear your underwear two days in a row, and you get in a car accident and they see your dirty underwear.” The internet’s version of that would be “That awkward moment when you thought you could wear dirty underwear two days in a row…” and everyone on earth except for me seems to be satisfied with that as a statement. I may have shown you all that I’m a mother from the 40’s with that example, but you get the point.
Yesterday, was the Las Vegas shooting, and so all day yesterday and today, we’ve seen “Thoughts and Prayers.” There have been a lot of people debating over whether or not sentiment is enough, and I don’t really want to engage in that. What I want to say is, when we say anything about “thoughts and prayers,” are we actually? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think people are doing it completely by rote memory, or unconsciously sharing “thoughts and prayers,” posts. What I mean is beyond the couple of minutes in which it is being talked about specifically, are we thinking about it? Are we praying about it? Sure, there are definitely those who are, people who are reflecting on it, and praying in privacy about these things, but what percentage of people saying it are doing it? I don’t believe it’s 50%. This one drives me crazy, largely because I think people aren’t really thinking about what they’re saying, when say “thoughts…”. I know I probably sound nuts, but if you’re not going to think about it, or you’re not going to pray about it, just don’t say it. I do actually pray about everything I tell people I’m going to pray about for them. Whether it’s in my car, or lying in bed, or whatever. I also reflect upon everything, and think about everything. My brain replays conversations, and stories I heard from people months later. If you tell me today that a grizzly bear gnawed on your leg when you were twelve, and that’s why you can’t watch Paddington, I’m going to think about that story, every time I see anything Paddington related… probably for years.
I’m really trying not to talk politically, but I’m going to talk about a couple of political catch-phrases that I think fit this ‘non-thinking’ culture. The reason I think this is semi-safe ground to tread on, is that both sides of the political spectrum are pretty guilty of it. We have phrases like “gun control,” “pro-life,” and “pro-choice” which really never mean the sum of their parts. These ones tend to get picked apart, with people saying “gun control is hitting your target,” or calling self proclaimed “pro-life”rs “anti-choice.” In these cases its the terminology people have called themselves which seems devoid of thought. They’re not really trying to convey a message or a belief system, but come up with a shiny word pairing that seems illogical to disagree with.
In the political realm, there is also another set of thoughtless linguistic choices. During the primaries last year, I heard a republican referred to as “too progressive.” As in too in favor of progress? This one tends to work in both directions too. Progressive is a dirty word on one side, despite meaning in favor of progress, and conservative is a dirty word on the other side, but it means to conserve. These are not necessarily opposing thoughts, in fact they can be very complimentary thoughts, but we don’t think about them that way. “Conservative” or “Progressive” just mean “those guys over there.” It reminds me a bit of a stand up routine that Aziz Ansari does in which he says anything can be a racial slur in the wrong tone of voice, and then he proceeds to call a member of the audience a “Kit-Kat” to prove his point. Sure there are ideological differences on both sides, but can we stop co-opting words and turning them into hot-button labels.
These kinds of things are still somewhat new in their devolution, eventually they will turn into phrases like “I could care less,” where people “couldn’t care less” whether or not they’re even saying the phrases correctly.
As a final side note: I’m really trying to keep this blog from getting back into political discussion at all, but these issues that I talked about today, for me are more a matter of linguistics than politics, but I will continue to avoid meaningful political discussion on this blog.