Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Actually I'd Like To Shove An Actually Up Their Nose

Any time you hear someone using the word “actually” more than once, watch out. Listen carefully. Now there are some people who are simply bad speakers, non-professionals who don’t realize they’re repeating the word every 4 or 5 words and are therefore, at the least, very nerve-wracking to listen to. Aside from these people, though, I’ve decided that in Public Life, it’s a word whose misuse has a slightly different cast than, say, the word “just”, which also get a good deal of overuse. If you’ll pay attention, you’ll see that the professionals think that “actually” Means Something. Something magical.

The word “actually” is only a strong indicator of laziness on the part of amateurs, but it is a barometer of prejudice and prevarication on the part of professionals. The TV news commentator or reporter who announces in a story about the President that He is “actually going to speak to us a little later today” draws my attention. The “actually” adds nothing to the content of the sentence--the facts have already been conveyed. Neither does it “actually” add anything to the content of the sentence. (I’m getting dizzy now.)

A word like that, I conclude, is Actually somewhat worshipful, steeped in the notion that the President isn’t just an important mortal, but that he is so far above us that it may actually be as if someone were mounting the Mount again to speak down to us sinners. If they say "actually", it's an unquestionably more magical thing.

I believe I could listen to the President—any President—speak to us this afternoon. If he’s going to “actually” speak to us, though, I feel like I should go out to the garage and get my knees pads out for some serious worship, not to mention my canister-style respirator and an umbrella in case the BS hits the fan or gets way too thick. I mean, Actually, folks--that’s how I feel.

When politicians or other know-nothings in public life use and overuse the word, I’m always suspicious. Why are they so unduly emphasizing that something “actually” happened or is about to happen? Isn’t it enough that things happen, whether ordinary or extraordinary? Do they have to “actually” happen in order to be real? Can’t they just happen and be real? Is everything Hyper? These days we are in a world of various “Ultimate Sports” and ultimate everything else, but I wish they’d just DO those ultimate things, fall off the log, crush their skulls, kill themselves. Whatever. That’s called “thinning the herd”. Improving the species. Especially if they’d take one politician with them under one arm and one television reporter with them under the other. They don’t have to hang around and Ultimatize the language until the language is as indeterminate as their brains, just a muddled puddle of Actually’s melting together in a big pot of Hyper-gunk.

Sometimes on TV you’ll hear a talking head or politician say “actually” 7 or 8 times in a single sound bite, and you know how short those things are these days. I can’t believe that people who pretty much talk for a living don’t listen any more closely to how they speak. You and I might get nervous on TV and begin to gibber, but that's why They get the big money! I just wish some of them could restrain themselves. All I ask, is that if they have to say “actually”, they should say it ONCE and be done with it. It is no longer a word that means very much, anyway. It’s like saying, “umm” all the time. In fact, they should stick with “umm” if they don’t know what the hell they’re trying to say or if they need to pause, pause, pause. They’d make themselves a lot clearer. I don’t want to know Everything they have to Say; I only want to know the everything they have to Tell, and that doesn’t take as long as how long they can talk!

Friend Nobius is right; I watch way too much television. But I'm a news junkie and the TV was made to create and feed junkies of all kinds. I won't worry about the other kind just now; I'm way too tired. Swatting at flies with a baseball bat is exhausting work.

©2004 Ronald C. Southern

I woke up this morning
And looked in the pit—
It was a viper pit
And what looked back was me,
My face reflected in a dirty puddle.
This was just before the viper struck at me
from the right side and I died.

Then I woke again in a sweat and wondered
If I’d have to dream that dream again and again…


Feebly Coming, Crawling Along, that sorry old Attraction (moving slower and sloower all the time!): oh, hell let’s just put the BAD DRIVING blog on Hold for now! Some day my prince will come…

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.” -- George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

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