THE BLOG
06/14/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Phrases That Cancel Us Out

The first time someone said to me, "There you go", I thought, damn, I must be getting old. Surely, the last time this was commonly expressed around me was when I was learning to ride a bicycle and my father stood watching with exactly that sentiment as I pedaled determinedly up the cul-de-sac. It seems like the phrase belongs in a ga-ga-goo-ga category. When first conversationally offered to me in recent times, I was stunned.

I quickly searched for meaning, as if in a foreign land where primitive symbols were displayed in place of language. I thought about how "there you go" might connect to the precedent snippet of conversation and realized, this must be a new bonding phrase. As in, the encouraging, "Now you've put the thought together! There you go!"

Since I listen to how we use language to get a read on what's up or down with society, I can be irritating to have a conversation with.

Words are not just the sprinkling system of the human garden for me. They reveal underlying feeling, motive, response. Communication runs sweepingly by us. We are susceptible to every new expression and the contagion of speaking a la minute with our fellows.

But what are we saying?

Today, "there you go" is seemingly the tag line in all conversation. I hear it used to reset the theme and place a period at the end of subjects. As in, "I'm not really listening, I want to generically connect" or "I'm not paying much attention and don't have anything to say," or "I want a glib moment of belonging, a quick ride of kinship without having to give anything of myself".

Perhaps my take on current faux language strategies in social communication will be received like a slap in the face and will offend many people. Unconsciousness always has fans.

Words can either deliberately direct us to a more whole, present way of being alive, or words can degrade and delete the human chain of connection, entirely.

Beware the phrases that cancel us out. The events of language that remove us from who we are, like Facebook's kidnapping of the word, "friend". When was the last time you thought about that word, as in, Who are my real friends?