when asked an opinion, think about how often you hear someone say “I think it’s interesting…”. this has become a response of choice to deflect from taking the time to precisely or accurately formulate an opinion. individuals choose extraneous words without conveying a thought process, belief or stance. what does interesting really mean? being “specific,” or using words that directly express what you want to be heard, is of critical importance.
the meaning of the word “interesting,” as was recently demonstrated in the film “captain fantastic,” has been diminished by its use as a default description. the actual definition, “arousing curiosity or interest; holding or catching the attention,” is rarely what the speaker means when using the word. similar to the way “um” is used in speech, the word “interesting” has come to suggest hesitation or a lack of stance on the part of the speaker who has perhaps not yet been able to formulate an opinion or is unwilling to express one. by referring to something as “interesting” with a lack of intention, the word itself is rendered neutral, does not carry the weight it could and reflects negatively on the intellect of the speaker.
words are misused in speech and writing every single day. people say “infer” when they mean “imply;” “flaunt” when they mean “flout;” but few words have been as widely abused as “literally.” the word has been (literally) redefined to account for its misuse. in addition to the correct meaning, “in a literal sense or matter; actually,” a second has been added “in effect; virtually.” the laziness with which it has been used has become absolute in the english language and it can no longer be taken at face value.
similar to the way “interesting” is used as a catch-all descriptor, words like “unique” and “awesome” have also been overblown to apply to things that are neither of the two. even with more than one million words to choose from and thus the ability for better precision, people are abusing the english language in an effort to dramatize or exaggerate. as news and messages have become easier to access and consume in a shorter period of time than ever before, we have collectively become desensitized. so what may have begun as pushing the boundaries of language has actually tainted the meaning of words like “unique,” “awesome” and “amazing,” and in turn the value of the people, places or concepts with which they are associated.
everyday language is littered with a range of words that are meaningless, imprecise or being used incorrectly. people have grown lazy in the way they use language, and in extreme examples have tarnished the integrity of specific words. paying close attention to what you say and ensuring that you are using words and descriptions with a sense of authority and intention will ensure that your message carries weight and conveys meaning. it is worth taking the time to speak with precision and to carefully consider the reasoning behind the words you choose. long live the pause.