Seriously? My word choice annoys you?

I just have to get this off my chest.

It annoys the piss out of me when people use the question “seriously?” to not-so-subtly criticize other people. No, really. I wish it weren’t becoming so popular: because of the way certain people hardwire when it comes to verbal development, we will be stuck with a whole generation who will continue to speak this way even after the trend dies. (I hope it dies soon.)

The internet and overheard conversations are full of questions these days:

“You’re going to wear that? Seriously?”

“Seriously? You’re thinking of going to law school?”

“Did you seriously just call the bathroom the ‘sandbox’? Seriously?”

But they aren’t really questions. I suppose the idea is to imply that the speaker, instead of being a critical bitch or bastard, is genuinely interested in the other person’s well-being. Not surprisingly, the word is actually being used to question the other person’s competence, judgement, life choices, or taste.  “You like those colors for your living room? Seriously?” I find this usage so distasteful that my stomach begins to turn even when the word is relatively benign: “After examining the way Americans prioritized their expenses in the past, we must seriously examine our motivation for spending in the future.” ARGH! Wait — what?

Perhaps it stems from the fact that most people kind of run their mouths without thinking. Probably because we’re all a little guilty of saying things we haven’t thought out properly, instead of telling someone we question their intelligence we want to pretend like we think they’re joking. “You think white gay men enjoy a certain amount of male privilege? Seriously?” “Seriously? You really want to start a charity to buy ski equipment for orphans in Darfur?” “You think people care about your preferences for verbal usage in American English? Seriously?”

I have another idea about how we can respond when those around us do or say something we find questionable, though. Here it is in all its glory: Unless the situation concerns us directly, WE SHOULD SHUT THE FUCK UP. Yeah that’s right, the old “If you don’t have anything nice to say” bit. Holy shit, there’s an idea! Instead of turning up our lips in that junior high white girl sneer, and asking “Seriously?” when someone tells us that they really like pale pink crocheted doilies, we should just smile and clam up. After all, if populating her house with pale pink crocheted doilies fulfills your friend and you truly want her to be happy, your criticism isn’t going to help.


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1 comment to Seriously? My word choice annoys you?

  • Alan

    I know this is way after the fact, but it drives Kerry bonkers when someone says “I know, right?”

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