Bad Words

The ‘Interesting’-ly bad word: A lesson in humility

I deliberated over writing an introduction for Bad Words that expands on the section in the update post, because the lack on an introduction meant that I will need to spend a few lines in this post explaining what I am going for, before diving into a discussion of the ‘word of the week’ itself. However, doing so falls into the emplotment trap of telling one’s readers what to expect, and guides them on how to read the post (not that the existence of this paragraph does not, but I feel this is a much better option). It is both obnoxious, self-justifying and pretentious, and it kind of goes against my intention for this series. So in lieu of an introduction, I am going to do both, and neither. In this paragraph, I have discussed my deliberation, and my conclusion is that I should just tell my audience I have thought about writing an introduction, but I found it utterly unnecessary and I will just cut right into the piece… right, about, now!

‘Interesting’ is my least favourite word. It is a word that is at the same time loaded, and contains no meaning whatsoever. What I mean by that is the word, when used, acts as though it is concealing emotions, criticisms, connotations and explanation. And when you probe the speaker on what they mean when they say the word ‘interesting’, my experience is that most of the time they have nothing of substance to substantiate their ‘interesting’ comment at all. It is a cover-up word usually used in conversations to conceal the fact that the speaker has nothing interesting to say at all, ironically. Personally, I find it very useless to invoke the word, and indeed the only times I use it is to end a boring conversation (again, ironically), or use it unironically as a joke because close friends know how much I detest that word.

And when they use it, they know I am going to ask questions. Sometimes people use it to be polite because they are afraid of giving unsolicited opinions – but the way I view politeness seems to be in direct contrast of how most people view it. Opinions for me should be expressed and explained even if they can be blunt, absurd, crude and vulgar by current social standards. I am not a magician, nor a mind-reader, I do not know what is going on in your head when you say my views on Trump are ‘interesting’. Perhaps you think that I am a madman because I consider polygamy to be harmless. and foresee a future where pedophilia will be legalised and recognised although I am against it (I am only inserting these five words because in light of recent events and because people like to take snippets of sentences and bestow narratives to portions of a larger picture). Perhaps you appreciate my theories on the Thai Monarchy succession or the reason behind why a debate over the Syonan Gallery’s name emerged, but can’t quite put your finger on why you do and hence rather not let your approval or disapproval be known.

Here comes another of my absurd theories. There are cases in which ‘interesting’ is used to end conversations – those are not relevant here – but I think the use of the word ‘interesting’ in other situation has a lot to do with pride, ego. Two things. There is either fear of not being able to, or you know that you are unable to, properly defend your opinion after you have given it so the use of a neutral word like ‘interesting’ circumvents that foreseeable conundrum. That fear of being seen as an emotionally-driven and not factually-driven being, the ego bestowed unto oneself by way of labels we wear like, professional, intellectual, teacher, educator, those unnecessary considerations drive people to invoke the word ‘interesting’ because we lack ‘evidence’ and ‘proper defences’ to our opinions.

But, what is, a ‘proper defence’? I have avoided adding more confusing big words in this write-up in fear of this turning into a constantly-digressing and word/phrase-explaining rabbit hole. So, to put it simply, there are times I think opinions without substantiation are better than half-hearted, neutral adjectives like ‘interesting’. It is okay to express why you like or dislike a film but is unable to explain it because of… reasons. Maybe one just needs time to ponder more over an issue, or take another look at the source material to come up with better conclusions. Nobody has perfect memory, perfect knowledge, and certainly nobody has the capacity nor capability to elaborate and explain everything and anything under the sun. And that is perfectly alright. Just give me your opinion, and say that you are not ready or you are just too lazy to consider why your opinion is a certain way, and we move on. If this was a serious argument, I may feel justified to probe into that opinion more; but nobody has time for that in every single banter. Just don’t brush people aside with meaningless words like ‘interesting’, there is no need to be ashamed on your lack of examples and facts and reasoning based in science on every single matter – especially because those four words are going onto future essays in this series – because at times there just isn’t any, or at least not any you know of without first doing research on. And maybe the research may reshape your opinions, and help you explain yourself better the next time; saying ‘interesting’ is plain rude and to me, shows how you care perhaps a little too much about your pride as an intellectual being living in the age of science.

I implore all of you; stop using that word, unless it is being used ironically. And don’t even try to use it as a conversation ender because firstly, I may not detect it because of how blunt and dull I am at times, and secondly, you are most likely walking into an inquisition. Just don’t. For the sake of your own good. Sometimes we just don’t have an answer for everything and when they occurs, ‘I don’t know’ is a perfectly fine answer for any question starting with ‘Why?’.

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