Thursday, December 28, 2006

Different is a Four Letter Word

Okay, a lot of smart people do this, too. And it has to stop. “Different” is not a polite, all-purpose descriptive. In fact, it’s downright rude.

Q: “What do you think of my blog?”

A: “Well . . . it’s DIFFERENT!”

Wrong. Wrong. Oh so wrong.

Different’s evolution into an all-purpose critique has me baffled. Flummoxed. Speechless. Okay, maybe not speechless.

Originally, one said “It’s different” with an arched eyebrow, drops of sarcasm and irony falling from the corners of the mouth—like a combination of drool and that thing that happens when you think of a pickle. It was a bitchy rejoinder, dismissive and bordering on cruel. Now sweet southern ladies use it as an out. So they can offer commentary without (they think!) letting you know how distasteful they find it.

They’re still using the vocabulary correctly. They’ve just neutered it.

Now the great irony here is that Gentle Southern Ladies are MASTERS at sugar-coated insults. Everyone knows that any horrible thing you have to say about someone else can be completely construed as concern—as long as you say “Bless her heart” beforehand.

“Bless her heart! Her regular hairdresser must have been on vacation.”

“Bless her heart! I thought she’d gone on a diet.”

“Bless her heart! Her mama wasn’t real bright either.”

“Bless his heart! You know his wife has slept with every man in town—and half the women!”

You get the picture. So why, oh why can’t they put the irony back in "different?"

It’s like telling an artist his work is “so creative.” HELLO! He IS creative. Or telling a businesswoman her presentation was “very professional.” That’s pretty much a minimum expectation.

So come up with a different euphemism for “ugh!” My friend Ritmo wrinkles her nose and makes a soft “blech” sound. Not terribly attractive, but effective communication.

Of course, if you wanted to go softer, maybe “Wow. Not exactly my cup of tea, but I see where you’re coming from.” Or, “Not really diggin’ it.” Or, “Dude! That sucks.”

At least it would be honest communication. And that would be different.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well first, lest we forget. When we ask someone a question we do not get to pick the answer. However rude and absurd "different" is as an answer to a thought on this fabulous blog.... if you ask someone what they think, the answer is usually or at least hopefully on their terms. And I imagine most stupid people would find it confusing. However the mix in the pot makes life interesting if not amusing. Relax, we all still love you.