'I can't even' speak
Pondering the origins of the stupid things we say
You know when something really dumb catches on, becomes widely recognized and is subsequently accepted as a norm, despite being utterly nonsensical? I’m referring to some of the more serious social epidemics: Crocs, AIM buddy profiles, YOLO and Instagram selfies.
These are all concepts which were only perceived as cool because they were what everyone else was doing — seriously, I think it’s safe to say your perforated rubber footwear never had much inherent coolness to it. These days, it seems a trend is a trend, and people will follow it regardless of whether it makes sense.
But if you ask me, the weird social norms which are most detrimental to society are those which govern the words we choose to use in everyday conversation. In an age when it’s necessary to specify we “literally can’t even” — despite the human incapability to “even” figuratively — it seems intelligent articulation is seeing a major decline.
First of all, the merciless abuse and misuse of certain adverbs is getting out of control. For many girls, there is no better way to place emphasis on something than to underscore its actuality — phrases like, “But I’m actually so tired” are somehow infinitely more powerful than just being tired. At some point, the phrase, “But actually” became an all-purpose tool for concurrence. Am I wrong in thinking we could do better? But actually.
Other adverbs which suffer this kind of mistreatment include “honestly” and the crowd favorite — on its way to becoming the catch phrase of our time — “literally.” I’ve noticed people seem to think prefacing an opinion with “honestly” makes it that much more valid and worth listening to. I guess you could say we’re at least preserving our integrity when we sigh, “I honestly just don’t want to go to class right now.” It’s like, wow, thanks for being honest with me about that. Your authenticity is really noble.
Then, there are many trendy phrases whose meanings and origins are completely obscure to me. I’m begging somebody to explain to me how the title “nugget” became a term of endearment for small people. A nugget of what, exactly? I have a sub-five-foot friend who was adamant about her decision to eliminate any sorority in which a sister characterized her as “such a little nug” during formal recruitment this semester. I can’t say I blame for her not wanting to be equated to something found in a Happy Meal.
And then there’s the triteness of certain comments that pop up on social media sites. If I see one more girl gushing about how “absolutely perf” someone is or berating another for looking attractive — “ugh can you stop being so hot” — I might lose it. And birthday shout-outs consisting of “I hope your day is as perfect as you are!” really need to become irrelevant already — I think we all have it in us to be a little more genuine and original.
I literally can’t handle any of these annoying phrases anymore. Like, they’re honestly making us sound far more trivial than I’d like to believe any of us really are. But actually, we attend a pretty decent university and are paying a slightly obscene amount for the education we’re receiving. It actually needs to stop. Literally.
Victoria’s column runs biweekly Tuesdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.