Not as “amazing” as you think

Let’s set up a scenario. Two guys are standing on a road. In reality this scenario could take place anywhere and involve anyone, but for the sake of the scenario we will use two gentlemen, Bob and Jim. Bob and Jim are talking, about nothing particularly important, when these phrases comes up in conversation: “Wow man, that was really hilarious!” or “Man, you’re a genius!”

Louis C.K., although vulgar, brings up some interesting points in his stand up performance “Hilarious,” concerning conversations such as these.

“(Hilarious is) one of those words that we use, and we don’t care about what it means. We go right for the top shelf with our words now. We don’t think about how we talk.” And he is right. We humans do this all the time. We constantly use words in daily conversation in the wrong connotation. And while this incorrect use may not seem like a big deal, if we continue on this path, we might just talk ourselves out of being able to communicate.

This result may sound a little extreme. No longer being able to communicate, because we didn’t use the correct word? Think about it. Words such as genius, radical, gay, special and this list goes on of words that have multiple meanings. Now when the word stretches out so diversely, we are forced to understand the word through context. This leaves a lot of space for error, as we become less and less efficient. What if the day finally comes when we are no longer able to define a word through its context, will we still be able to understand one another?

It is not hard to repave this path that we are on. In fact it is quite simple. If you want to be understood, stop and think to understand every word you are using.

In a world that is moving perpetually faster, it is not hard to see this as a rising problem. In a culture where communication has moved from letter, to email, to text message, as the individual pushes themselves further and further away from those with whom they communicate, it’s no wonder we feel the constant need to think on our feet, always having something to say.

Take the challenge for a day to put down the phone and the computer and force yourself into a conversation. Force yourself to think a little bit more about your choice of words. Like Louis CK says, if you use the word “amazing” to describe a basket of chicken wings, “You have limited yourself verbally to a shit life . . . What are you going to do with the rest of your life now? You used ‘amazing’ on a basket of chicken wings.”

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