annoying things people say
I’m a specialist. I specialise in noticing when people do things wrong, and getting annoyed at it. I am very good at my job.
Perhaps the most rewarding area of my work lies in identifying how wrongly people express themselves. Why can’t people simply use language correctly?
One of the most annoying things people say is “It was a nightmare!”. They say it all the time. “I got stuck in traffic, it was a nightmare.” “My phone battery was flat, it was a nightmare.” “We couldn’t find any pizza anywhere, it was a nightmare.” “I couldn’t get on my Facebook page!” “My boyfriend saw me without make-up!” etc etc etc
Those are not nightmares. A nightmare is when you discover that the whole of your family have turned into vampire zombies, and they know you’ve found out. A nightmare is when someone is coming after you with a chainsaw and they’ve already killed the rest of the city. A nightmare is when the planet has been invaded by alien earwigs the size of elephants and have barbecued the rest of humanity with barbecue sauce, and you’re the only one left, and you’re next on the menu. That’s a nightmare. Why can’t people get these things right?
The other stuff is an inconvenience, not a nightmare. And by the way – these things are also your fault, not somebody else’s; you should have charged your phone up/ made sure what was a wi-fi connection/ looked up pizza restaurants/ left home earlier/ got a less shallow boyfriend.
Another annoying thing
Another really annoying thing people say is “I totally turned things round 360 degrees!”. What these people are trying to say is that they completely changed a situation from one thing to its opposite – they stopped drinking or smoking or taking drugs, they’ve changed jobs from running a mafia outfit to being a traffic warden, they found a purpose in life making life-size cardboard models of St Paul’s cathedral, or they’re having sex in strange and unnatural new positions; they are now heading in the opposite direction from where they were going before. Hello? This is turning things round 180 degrees, not 360 degrees. 360 degrees is turning the whole way round, i.e. not having changed anything at all. Why can’t people get these things right?
Actually, a further annoyance about this is that carrying on in exactly the same direction is what most people end up doing after they have made an attempt at becoming a completely new person. Naturally, the irony in this escapes them. And that doesn’t make them right about the 360 degree thing.
Coincidences. That’s another annoying thing people talk about incorrectly. They’re always reporting amazing coincidences that have happened to them. “Wow,” they say, “I was just thinking about so-and-so, and the phone rang, and it was them!” “I was walking down the street and I met XYZ and I hadn’t seen her for 40 years – that’s really amazing!.” “My cat came home with a squirrel three days in a row. How unlikely is that?”
But what these people fail to notice is the countless millions of other times when things didn’t go in an unexpected way, when things went as expected, when nothing surprising or unusual or ‘coincidental’ happened. If you just stop to think about it, you’ll soon realise that at any moment, the chances are extremely high that somewhere in your life, something has got to happen, the chances of which happening are extremely low. And that’s because there are so many aspects to your life, and so many millions of things happening in all of them. But people don’t notice these millions of boring, ordinary circumstances – they just notice the few unusual ‘coincidences’. Now, if your cat came home one day with three squirrels, an octopus and a small dinosaur that had been extinct for three hundred million years, now that would be something to remark upon. Why can’t people just get these things right?
Several more annoying things
Football commentators. How annoying are they? They say a lot of things which are quite simply wrong. One of the more incorrect things you hear them say is that one or other team has been saved from having a goal scored against them “by the woodwork”. There is so much wrong with this statement. They weren’t “saved by the woodwork”. First of all, the goal-posts haven’t been made of wood since half-way through last century – they’re made of plastic. And more importantly, the ‘plastic-work’ didn’t miraculously dive to one side a couple of inches, like some sort of supernatural goalie, in order to direct the ball from its course into the net. The goal-posts stayed where they were; the shot simply wasn’t on target. Why can’t people just get these things right?
And don’t get me started about the way people use nouns as verbs (“to leverage” – surely one of the single most annoying terms in the entire pantheon of modern wrong-speak). Or the meaningless phrases which people insist on peppering their talk with (“Squaring the circle”; “The exception that proves the rule”; “at the end of the day” – what do these things mean? Then there are those terminally futile twin phrases of verbal pointlessness, “As you know…” and “Needless to say…” So why are you ******* well saying it?!!!. And I won’t even mention the ubiquitous superfluous apostrophe.
Simply wanting people to get things right – does that make me pedantic? I don’t think so. There’s a difference between being pedantic – and being right. I know that I am not alone in feeling this way. I know that you feel exactly the same way. These are not trivial matters we’re talking about here. This is nothing less than a breakdown in the entire world order. It must be stopped – now.
Oh and by the way, people say that I’m pedantic – but actually I’m not. They’ve chosen the wrong word. What I am is didactic – and that’s a very good thing. They can’t even get that right!
You haven’t heard the end of this, oh no……