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I wish we could stop saying these. We should really try to, or else we get what we deserve.
May 2, 2011 3:55 PM   Subscribe

Four Words that Make Me Suspicious of Myself When I say Them.

Via: The Browser

A little about Raptitude:
Raptitude is a blog for getting better at being human. I see being human as a skillset — something you can get better at if you take it upon yourself to do so. You can learn to temper rotten moods, shed your insecurities, shore up your weak points and sharpen your strong ones. Human minds and bodies are complicated vehicles for which there is no manual and no training, but we can learn to drive them a hell of a lot better than we often do, if only we make a point of it.
Previously on MetaFilter.
posted by codacorolla (89 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, it's nice to know that there's a website out there that has this sort of thing on hand, so I don't have to wait for my grandmother to email-forward it to me.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:01 PM on May 2, 2011 [15 favorites]


I should try and wish that I deserved to like this.
posted by zeoslap at 4:03 PM on May 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


From "Bart's Inner Child," after the "Do What You Feel" festival goes haywire when a poorly maintained Ferris wheel comes unhinged, rolls and crashes into a zoo, causing animals to escape:
Marge, to festival workers: Er, I don't want to judge the rightness of your ego orientation, but my inner critic says you should have done your job!

Ned: Hey, now, Marge, let's not "should" this fellow to death!
posted by John Cohen at 4:12 PM on May 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


For me it's, "I am your Queen." Why do I say that?
posted by Splunge at 4:13 PM on May 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


My dad's word was "want". He grew up very poor and with a crappy family situation, and he would always get mad when my brother and I would say, "ooh, I want [such and such]!" because we were never in want for anything. He'd always correct us to "would like to have." Getting corrected on the nit-picky word choice was annoying, sure, but I think it made us more thoughtful kids.
posted by phunniemee at 4:14 PM on May 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Blogs for "getting better at being human" are the new productivity blogs.
posted by grobstein at 4:16 PM on May 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I bet anyone who's that judge-y about themselves is extra-super judge-y about everyone else.
posted by logicpunk at 4:25 PM on May 2, 2011 [18 favorites]


I AGREE WITH THIS WHOLEHEARTEDLY AND WILL NOW STAB MYSELF REAL HARD IN THE FACE WHENEVER I CATCH MYSELF USING ONE OF THESE "FORBIDDEN" WORDS.
posted by infinitywaltz at 4:26 PM on May 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


My word is 'just'.

I 'just' want some peace and quiet, despite the nature of a four year old child.
I just want a decent hamburger, despite the fact that all chefs have bad days.
I just want this wretched cough to go away, as if my friend who has muscular dystrophy shouldn't have priority if this tiny request ofmine is being listened to somewhere.

As if by putting 'just' in front of it, I can hide from myself that I am making an outrageous, insane demand on a world that just couldn't care less.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 4:27 PM on May 2, 2011 [17 favorites]


I get a little worried when I boom out "BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD AND SKULLS FOR HIS THRONE!"

But maybe my standards are too prissy.
posted by orthogonality at 4:27 PM on May 2, 2011 [36 favorites]


How about "I wish I had normal brain chemistry, so I wouldn't have to keep trying different medications to keep me sane?" How's that wish, Mr. Getting-Better-at-Being-Human?
posted by cereselle at 4:27 PM on May 2, 2011 [27 favorites]


I try to avoid using the phrase "that's unfair." It sounds so childish that I have to stop and examine what I would have said, to make sure that I was not in fact being childish. As they are happy to tell us when we are kids, The World Is Not Fair.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:30 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


The word I'm trying to avoid is 'lycanthrope'.
posted by benzenedream at 4:31 PM on May 2, 2011 [13 favorites]


So, in this person's world, no-one ever deserves anything good? Sounds like a bit of an arsehole.
posted by pompomtom at 4:32 PM on May 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Funny, just watched that episode of Home Movies last night:
Paula: But are you learning anything? I mean, psychology can be kind of interesting.
Brendon: Well, I learned that "should" is a word I shouldn't use.
Paula: Why shouldn't you?
Brendon: I don't know. Because it makes the doctor mad. He should lighten up a little.
Paula: Maybe you should lighten up a little.
Brendon: Maybe you should go to therapy with Linda.
Paula: Maybe she should lighten up a little.
Brendon: Maybe everybody should lighten up a little.
Paula: What should we have for dinner?
Brendon: We should have pizza.
Paula: We should have salad, too.
Brendon: You should have salad.
Paula: Maybe Linda should have salad?
Brendon: I feel that it would be in her best interest.
Paula: Should be in her best interest.
Brendon: What do you mean? Whose best interest?
Paula: The salad.
Brendon: The salad is in Linda's best interest?
Paula: No, the pizza's in the salad's best interest...the point is, Brendon, you don't have to go to therapy. But I think a person like you really should.
posted by darksasami at 4:36 PM on May 2, 2011 [21 favorites]


I think of Scarlett O'Hara when i decide to worry about something tomorrow
posted by Cranberry at 4:37 PM on May 2, 2011


The world is not fair.

I always flip this in my head, in that life actually is fair. So fair in fact that it doesn't give a crap about giving me any kind of special treatment. Semantics I guess but it's my second thought anytime my first thought is that something is unfair.
posted by hypersloth at 4:38 PM on May 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


"You People". But I guess that's two words.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:42 PM on May 2, 2011


I find myself using the word “wish” when I’ve decided I don’t like something the way it is,

There is nothing inherently wrong with expressing that you'd like something to change.

yet I’m not actually doing anything about it.

This may be how you use "wish" but it's not how I use it. Also, there's no reason why you should have to take action on something in order to merely express an opinion about it.

I don’t know about you, but I know I insert the word “try” into a sentence when I’m not actually willing to take on the responsibility of promising I’ll do something.

I use it when promising would be inappropriate. Which happens to be lots of situations, especially when I'm being cautiously realistic to others about whether I can follow through on something. "Try" is often more honest than "promise".
posted by naju at 4:43 PM on May 2, 2011


It's cognitive behavioral therapy basics for people who can't afford therapy. Or something.

'Wish' reminds me of those old phrases like 'If wishes were horses beggars would ride' and 'If wishes were fishes there'd be no room for the water'.

'Deserve' is a good word though. Once I learned that I 'deserved' to be treated with the same dignity and thoughtfulness everyone else is I felt better.

I think I'm supposed to avoid using 'I' though
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:48 PM on May 2, 2011


If wishes and buts were beer and nuts then we'd have a hell of a party.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:49 PM on May 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Shoulding Yourself:
The most frequent result of shoulding ourselves is procrastination. If I find that whenever I think about doing school work I find "should" thoughts rushing in, making me feel guilty and depressed, I will tend to mentally "change the subject" and redirect my attention to something that isn't so unpleasant. The more you "should" yourself about studying, the harder it becomes to actually spend any time studying. You never feel like it...

...One way to break the hold of "should" automatic thoughts is to bring the thought out in the open and substitute the word "choose" for the word "should." If you find yourself squirming with the automatic thought, "I should start my essay," change it to "I choose to start my essay." You're a free agent. It makes very little sense for you to say, "I should do this, but I choose not to." Such a statement reveals the "should" for the illogical and confusing term that it is. If you don't choose to do it, you don't really believe you should do it.

On the other hand, the idea of choice moves you closer to actually doing something. A "should" just leads to guilt; a choice leads to action. So you are wise to think about the consequences of an action, the costs versus the benefits, before committing yourself to a choice. What you choose to do, and then do, will (to some degree, at least) change the world. What you "should" do will just make you miserable.

posted by flex at 4:49 PM on May 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


not_that_epiphanius: My word is 'just'.

yeah, me too. It comes up at work a lot. It mostly seems to mean 'something i'd like to be simple and/or quick, but really isn't'.
posted by nml at 4:53 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


"This was a triumph."
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:54 PM on May 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


"If wishes were wings then frogs wouldn't bump their butts." (I don't know WTF that's about either.)
posted by epersonae at 4:55 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I bet anyone who's that judge-y about themselves is extra-super judge-y about everyone else.

No. I can control myself. Can't control everyone else.
posted by LordSludge at 4:55 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think I'm supposed to avoid using 'I' though

I forget the class i took that had as an experiment to stop using "I" so much. It's stuck with me, to the point where i often forget to use it, or capitalize it. (no irony intended, it really is a problem for me know, not trying to be cool or anything like that.) It also showed how often people use it, some people more than others, sort of like when you learn to hear "um" and "ah" more.

(This issue of mine is probably not helped by my various dissociative disorders i've been diagnosed with over the years, oh well.)
posted by usagizero at 4:55 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I bet anyone who's that judge-y about themselves is extra-super judge-y about everyone else.

I dunno. Most of the super judge-y people I've met have had a blind spot the size of Texas when it came to evaluating their own actions. It's like people who say they're sensitive--what they really mean is that they'll jump to take offense at anything you say, yet won't spend a second considering the impact of their own words. I'd wager this author is more forgiving than most.
posted by Go Banana at 4:56 PM on May 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


> No. I can control myself. Can't control everyone else.

Question is, do you feel everyone else needs controlling?
posted by davelog at 4:58 PM on May 2, 2011


I bet anyone who's that judge-y about themselves is extra-super judge-y about everyone else.


I think that is pretty true, and it describes someone I dont want to be around but that is not how I read the article. I would say something like people trying to be mindful of their own flaws are often more tolerant of others.

Unless you take their cookies.
posted by shothotbot at 4:59 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nope. Their actions are not my responsibility. What's more, if I were in their shoes, I may well do the same thing, so I can't really judge.
posted by LordSludge at 5:03 PM on May 2, 2011


"I bet anyone who's that judge-y about themselves is extra-super judge-y about everyone else."

I've found the opposite to be true too. When you allow yourself to be super judgy about everyone for a while, in the end you end up feeling all self-judgemental.
posted by svenni at 5:05 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why does this guy's attempt at honest self-examination make some of you so defensive? There's not even a hint of superiority in this piece, and he's pretty up-front about the fact that these words have certain meanings to him, not to every single person ever.

Trying to avoid bullshitting yourself doesn't have anything to do with self-hatred or judging others. I over-scrutinize my own motives, which can have its drawbacks, but it makes me less judgmental, because I know how hard it is to live up to even my own simple standards.
posted by Toothless Willy at 5:07 PM on May 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


I wish I was a little bit taller
I wish I was a baller
I wish I had a girl who looked good, I would call her
I wish I had a rabbit in a hat and a bat
And a '64 Impala


My happiness is not dependent on my height, my athletic prowess, my ability to score with attractive women, my magician's costume, nor what kind of car I drive.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:09 PM on May 2, 2011 [24 favorites]


not_that_epiphanius: My word is 'just'.

I know MeFi is hostile toward Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but this passage is tightly knitted up in my mind with the qualifier "just", Phædrusstruggling with what feels wrong with his definition of Quality as "just what you like":
He thought, So Quality is whatever you like? It angered him. The great artists of history...Raphael, Beethoven, Michelangelo...they were all just putting out what people liked. They had no goal other than to titillate the senses in a big way. Was that it? It was angering, and what was most angering about it was that he couldn’t see any immediate way to cut it up logically. So he studied the statement carefully, in the same reflective way he always studied things before attacking them.

Then he saw it. He brought out the knife and excised the one word that created the entire angering effect of that sentence. The word was "just." Why should Quality be just what you like? Why should "what you like" be "just"? What did "just" mean in this case? When separated out like this for independent examination it became apparent that "just" in this case really didn’t mean a damn thing. It was a purely pejorative term, whose logical contribution to the sentence was nil. Now, with that word removed, the sentence became "Quality is what you like," and its meaning was entirely changed. It had become an innocuous truism.
It goes on a bit after that. But the removing of that one word does a lot.
Grabbed the text from here.
posted by milestogo at 5:10 PM on May 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


I found practicing E-prime useful enough that I still avoid "to be" as much as practical.
posted by wobh at 5:12 PM on May 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I" is slightly problematic but I end up using it as a shorthand way of acknowledging that my perspective is limited and subjective.

"Should" is trouble. "Ought ain't is," baby. When in doubt, I substitute "in order for this to happen, this other thing must precede it" or something similar.

Then come the minimizers, such as "just" (often in "can't you just ...") and "all you have to do is ..."

"Needs," especially when discussing inanimates. The sidewalk does not need to be swept.
posted by adipocere at 5:20 PM on May 2, 2011


The fact that your grandmother might forward you a link to something does not, in itself, discredit that thing.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:24 PM on May 2, 2011


Hell, my problem is that I don't use the words "I deserve" enough. In contexts like, "I deserve a good job," "I deserve better pay," "I deserve a partner who is supportive instead of flaky," etc.

I try to use "I deserve" more to curb my doormat tendencies. Because I do deserve all that. We all do.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:34 PM on May 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


The fact that your grandmother might forward you a link to something does not, in itself, discredit that thing.

You're right! That's what snopes is for!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:35 PM on May 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Another good word to avoid: Beetlejuice.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 5:41 PM on May 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Re: "try" and "Should": The clever but annoying Fritz Perls used to say "Trying is lying" and would refer to people who used the word "should" as "Shouldists" which rhymed with "Buddhists."

The phrase that makes me suspicious is "brain chemistry." As in "It wasn't me but my brain chemistry made me act like a dick. " because even though we are affected by our chemistry, it's not a one-way street. Our chemistry is also affect by us.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:44 PM on May 2, 2011


If wishes were horses we'd all be eating steak.
posted by kmz at 5:45 PM on May 2, 2011


"getting better at being human"

I prefer the term "super-adult," better judgment, no passive-aggressive behavior, following through 110%, etc.
posted by SirOmega at 5:47 PM on May 2, 2011


I see being human as a skillset

How Aristotelian.
posted by oddman at 5:50 PM on May 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I assumed it was going to be "I'm not racist, but"
posted by dismas at 5:55 PM on May 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


"The sidewalk does not need to be swept."

No, it "needs swept", as my one time Mennonite boss would say.
posted by ericost at 6:04 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I find that approximately 80% of people's complaints can be summed up as "I want an Oompa-Loompa now!" That puts things into perspective.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:05 PM on May 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'd like to add the word "hope" to the list of suspect words. Hope feels great when things are out of your control (like when a friend is sick) but it's not a strategy for handling something that's actually in your control (like passing an exam).
posted by xekul at 6:07 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


What the article meant to me was that people use passive language too often. This is something I've caught myself doing. In addition to the words in the article (wish, should, try, and deserve) I also overuse: some, really, often, maybe, slightly, possibly. Words that you can take out of a sentence and lose nothing. I've just started to notice it in my writing, and I've also started to pick up on it in my speech. Hitting on this article stroke the right chord with me, even if it comes off as (ahem) slightly self-help-ish, and fake-zen. So that's why I posted it. If anyone has any better sites or books that talk about getting rid of passive, worthless language in writing and speech, then I'd be happy to know about them.
posted by codacorolla at 6:14 PM on May 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think of Scarlett O'Hara when i decide to worry about something tomorrow

I think of Scarlett O'Hara whenever I'm hungry. Or when I want to show my bosom before three o' clock.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:46 PM on May 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


If anyone has any better sites or books that talk about getting rid of passive, worthless language in writing and speech, then I'd be happy to know about them.

This is where Strunk and White are Vikings.
posted by padraigin at 6:58 PM on May 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Another good word to avoid: Beetlejuice.

Best word to avoid? Candyman.
posted by nooneyouknow at 6:58 PM on May 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


The world is not fair.

But all nonsociopathic humans have an innate sense of justice. Otherwise, why would little kids say "that's not fair," when parents certainly don't teach them to compare what they get with what others have?

And given this—though we obviously interpret fairness differently—it's an important thing to think about and a very positive trait.
posted by Maias at 7:08 PM on May 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


In science settings, I have been trained to refrain from using the word "believe" when describing my opinion or what I think to be true. I think this is useful because the word believe has certain connotations with faith, and in science things are either true or not true, and faith should have nothing to do with our conclusions.

I find this useful in everyday conversation as well.
posted by nasayre at 7:10 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I should try to stop using 'wish' because I don't deserve to.
posted by bwg at 7:15 PM on May 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Attention all ladies: the Candyman is on the prowl.
posted by box at 7:34 PM on May 2, 2011


I really should try to stop using "really". It's supposed to help the meaning along, showing how really extra-something everything is, but it really isn't, and everyone actually knows that. Also "actually." It helps to play the scene in Educating Rita in your head so you can feel like a pompous ass. Also, "ass." I use that too much. "This tastes like ass." "Did something come out of your ass?"
posted by gorgor_balabala at 7:55 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


people in my social circle have actually stopped using should because it implies morality.

Honestly, I wish people would try harder to use should properly and meaningful, really I mean, we all deserve it, I just don't think it will happen.
posted by Shit Parade at 7:57 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


'Basically'. Basically, I think you're a bit slow. Basically, I think I'm rather clever. Basically, I'm a bit impatient and I don't think you'll grasp this quickly enough so I'm going to dumb it down for you and let you know all of that by starting with 'basically'. Basically, I'm being quite a dickhead when I say 'basically'.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:58 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


basically, it's complicated.
posted by Shit Parade at 7:59 PM on May 2, 2011


Essentially. Yes, you're correct.
posted by porpoise at 8:08 PM on May 2, 2011


I've been noticing the word "just" in front of advice is usually a pretty good sign that the advice is less about helping and more about shaming.
posted by prefpara at 8:42 PM on May 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


codacorolla: If anyone has any better sites or books that talk about getting rid of passive, worthless language in writing and speech, then I'd be happy to know about them.

Kurt Vonnegut
(PDF) and Mark Twain, among others, had some ideas about how to write that I think also often apply to how to think.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:23 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I need to stop using 'singalong' in reviews. It's barely a word.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:27 PM on May 2, 2011


I try to avoid saying Hastur

...ah shit.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:02 PM on May 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


My dad successfully taught me to feel bad all the time about everything I ever do or think, so this is comforting in a way.
posted by tumid dahlia at 10:59 PM on May 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I really hate whatever rhetorical work "well" as a lead-in to a defensive statement does, (paging amkimiam) as well as the overuse of "try." There is no more surefire way to make me angrier when I'm already angry at you than to say "well, I'm not trying to hurt your feelings." FUCKING GOOD BECAUSE THEN YOU'D REALLY GET IT. *exasperate*

I just want people to really say what they mean, is all.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:46 AM on May 3, 2011


Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg is an amazing book, if you're looking for writing help.
posted by colfax at 1:50 AM on May 3, 2011


"Literally" is also overused, usually in not-quite-right ways. (I do this myself, to my shame.)
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:01 AM on May 3, 2011


The four words you never want to hear in your life are "Whose bra is this?"
posted by joannemullen at 3:11 AM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


If wishes were anal fistulas, puss would be nectar.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:59 AM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


If wishes were anal fistulas, puss would be nectar.

I should've just asked you directly, as it seems you're quite the wordsmith.
posted by codacorolla at 7:41 AM on May 3, 2011


Another good word to avoid: Candlejack. Whenever you say the na
posted by cyberscythe at 8:33 AM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


As they are happy to tell us when we are kids, The World Is Not Fair.

Sorry for a slightly deranged derail, but that's one of those BS platitudes that really sets me off. My 8th science teacher used it all the time. It's a cheap-ass get-out-of-jail-free card. "Oh, that's not fair? Sorry, the world's not fair."

Oh, really? No shit. But just because "the world" (whatever that means) isn't "fair" doesn't mean that we, as humans, can strive for higher moral ground and yes, fairness in our approaches to each other and the planet.

It's much easier to let a problem sit unsolved and say "the world's not fair" than to work hard to address injustices.

* Everyone should love and respect one another
* Everyone deserves love and respect
* I will try to take my own advice, but I wish everyone would realize their own perceptions are not universal

You're walking down a street late at night and see a young boy getting beaten up by two older boys. What "should" you do? Not use the word "should?"

So I didn't like the article much.

If anyone has any better sites or books that talk about getting rid of passive, worthless language in writing and speech, then I'd be happy to know about them.

This article seems more like a pep talk for anger-management counselees than writing advice. Passive voice is underrated.

(Natalie Goldberg is the absolute bomb. Aforementioned Writing Down the Bones is her best known and likely most prescribed, but Wild Mind and Thunder and Lightning are fantastic as well .)
posted by mrgrimm at 8:34 AM on May 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


One of the best pieces of advice I've been given is "You can't just go around shoulding on people." I haven't entirely stopped, but I think about it and realize when I say it now.
posted by jardinier at 8:37 AM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Literally" is also overused, usually in not-quite-right ways. (I do this myself, to my shame.)

A second usage of "literally" is "figuratively" so when people use it to mean its opposite, they are not doing it wrong... e.g. "Kevin Youkilis just hit his 3rd home run of the game - he is literally on fire!"

Wiktionary calls it an "intensifier for figurative statements." I'll buy that for a quarter.

One of the best pieces of advice I've been given is "You can't just go around shoulding on people." I haven't entirely stopped, but I think about it and realize when I say it now.

Sage advice. You can (and should) should yourself, however. At some level you have to, or you descend into pure nihilism.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:39 AM on May 3, 2011


I like Raptitude, but I don't always agree with everything he says, but he says it all with such certainty that I get confused sometimes...
posted by pupstocks at 9:11 AM on May 3, 2011


Four Words that Make Me Suspicious of Myself When I say Them.

I'm suspicious of myself at least around 90% of the time.

what's he planning over there
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:12 AM on May 3, 2011


Wishing is a desperate, self-defensive behavior. It gives you a little hit of relief from a reality you don’t want to deal with, but it sure doesn’t move things along.

Stevie Wonder must be a real jackass then.
posted by blucevalo at 12:39 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Either there's no justice in this world, or there's nothing but justice in this world.

(or possibly something in between)
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 1:44 PM on May 3, 2011


Suzette Haden Elgin's livejournal posts on verbal self defense. Check out the entries on "even".

(Other Haden Elgin links: Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense, SFWA)
posted by wobh at 1:47 PM on May 3, 2011


No Yoda quote yet? Or is that [just] too obvious?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:41 PM on May 3, 2011


This is the kind of nonsense that drives all those ridiculous people who go around counting other people' "I"s and "me"s, as if it were actually grounds for questioning anybody's mental condition apart from their own. It's a crutch. It's the opposite of thoughtfulness.

I mean, isn't it bad enough that we're forced to rely on words, in all their vagueness and inadequacy, in our attempts to understand what other people think and feel, without also insisting on obsessively analysing our own utterances for insight into thoughts we already have immediate access to? The whole approach would be fundamentally backwards even if it actually were part of the personal and sincere reckoning with the writer's own fallible psyche the article is somehow getting passed off as. In fact it's an openly totally judgy piece, which says right at the top, "I do find I that whenever I need to make use of [these words], there’s a good chance I’m being at least a little presumptuous, simple-minded, or sneaky. They raise a similar red flag when I hear or read them too," and whose entire section on the word "should" is just a complaint about the nature of humanity as a whole.

As is the entire article, really. I mean, hating on wishing for things because "it sure doesn’t move things along"? Interacting with our idle desires is just what people do, and it can be a source of pleasure as well as pain. We write poetry about it and everything. And having lots of moral opinions and ideas about what is, or would be, good or bad is also a perfectly natural, legitimate and probably necessary thing to do - it's far from obvious, to me at least, that there is anything inherently virtuous about repressing the instinct to do so. I mean I'm all for compassion and patience - with myself, with other people, and with the universe. I actually really relate to this David person's whole thing about not getting bogged down in negativity and futile wanting. I just think it's healthy and normal for humans to let ourselves experience bad, petty feelings a bit, as long as we can also let go of them, instead of obsessively enforcing emotional self-discipline of this kind, which strikes me as a thousand times more strange and burdensome than just getting annoyed from time to time.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 4:24 PM on May 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


You know what? Writing rules are made to be broken. Learn them and then break them appropriately. Should and actually and literally and all the rest are good, useful words. Use them as needed, not more: the same way, ideally, one takes medication. People often forget that some of these words are useful to make writing keep a beat; if you don't keep in rhythm the passage won't work. It's not as simple as just avoid certain words and you'll write well.
posted by Maias at 4:33 PM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


This article is one of those things some ponytailed touchy-feely beardo creep would have brought in to one of my high school's board meetings as a tool for "facilitating" discussion.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:46 PM on May 3, 2011


This article is one of those things some ponytailed touchy-feely beardo creep would have brought in to one of my high school's board meetings as a tool for "facilitating" discussion.

*scratches his beard with his foot* ... what exactly are you getting at here?
posted by codacorolla at 6:55 PM on May 3, 2011


"Now people, do you know what I mean when I say that animals are sentient creatures?"
posted by mrgrimm at 8:04 AM on May 4, 2011


Omit needless words.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:37 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


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