Language can be very powerful. We’ve all had those moments, after reading that perfect paragraph or hearing that penetrating song lyric, where we think to ourselves, “that couldn’t have been said any better.” Unfortunately, far too often we talk and talk without saying anything at all. Many conversations are filled with empty pleasantries and rote repetition; how many conversations have you had about the weather or an athlete’s “intangibles?” There are some phrases that are totally worthless no matter where they pop up.
There are those lines that can derail the most thoughtful conversation, those words that really don’t have any content. Don’t worry too much if you find yourself resorting to these meaningless phrases: We all use them. After all, at the end of the day, it is what it is, and everything happens for a reason. Here are 7 things that people say that mean nothing!
1.) “Take it one day at a time.”
You don’t really have a choice, do you? There are many things in life that we can control, but the ceaseless rising and setting of the sun is not one of them. As long as the earth revolves around the sun, we’ll have no choice but to take things one day at a time.
2.) “That was random.”
Human actions are rarely random. When we say “That was random,” usually what we’re really saying is “That was weird.” The thing that the person did was so strange, so idiosyncratic, that it could only have been thought up through clear premeditation.
3.) “At the end of the day…”
“At the end of the day” is both a meaningless phrase and a lame argument tactic. People like to end an argument with “at the end of the day” statements because it sounds like they’re summarizing their point and bringing it all home.
How often are you actually laughing out loud when you type “LOL?” Sometimes we use LOL to say “I acknowledge that you made a joke.” Other times we use it to mean “I need you to know that I made a joke.” We sometimes even use LOL to mean “I know what I’m saying is inappropriate, so I’ll finish with ‘LOL’ so that I can claim it was a joke if someone gets offended.” There are even those times when an LOL is deployed simply as excess punctuation. LOL is the vaguest of Internet signposts, a crutch we use to remind the world that even though we may sound serious, it shouldn’t take what we say too seriously.
5.) “I’m spontaneous.”
No you aren’t. We are all creatures of habit. Just because every other weekend you do shrooms and go to EDM concerts doesn’t make you spontaneous. Usually, so-called spontaneity requires careful planning. It is probably a good thing that we aren’t spontaneous; nobody wants to have their well-laid plans radically changed because their significant other decided on a whim to go unicycling instead.
6.) “No offense.”
Being offended has become our new national pastime. Roughly one hundred percent of Twitter traffic stems from people being offended or from people hurling epithets at people who have been offended. Beginning a sentence with “no offense” isn’t going to change that. When you say “no offense,” you’re really saying, “I know this is going to offend you, but I wanted to say it anyway.” Saying “no offense,” then, actually makes whatever you’re going to say more offensive.
7.) “It is what it is.”
This is one of the most depressing phrases in the English language, which is odd, as it is so often used in an attempt to cheer someone up. When people say “It is what it is,” they seem to think that they are making a comment on fate or expressing some kind of personal philosophy. No matter how many times you nod or look off into the distance with a melancholy, vacant stare when you say “it is what it is,” all that you’re actually communicating is that whatever happened happened. There is no implicit commentary on what that means in the bigger picture, no attempt to glean some lessons and move forward. “It is what it is” is just an affirmation that what has come to pass has come to pass and there’s nothing that you can do about it.