Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Attitude of Platitudes

Platitudes make me want to throw things.

I don't really want to hurt anyone, but I do want to alarm them into perhaps thinking about the words coming out of their mouths.

Saying things that mean nothing does not mean nothing.

"Tomorrow is another day"
"Go with the flow"
"God's bigger than that"
"It will all be ok in the end"
"Everything has a purpose"
"It all comes out in the wash"
"All's well that ends well"
"There's no I in team"
"The early bird gets the worm."
"Time heals all wounds"

Trite, condescending, meaningless, dismissive. Or maybe just not listening at all...

Little bothers me more than receiving or hearing this sort of statement. It demands the end of a conversation, usually one that sought some support, because these trusims present with such finality that there is nowhere to go once they are out there. The thing is though - time alone may not heal all wounds, nobody asked if there was an I in team, and tomorrow being another day doesn't always offer any sort of comfort because tomorrow just might be another terrible day.

Platitudes, unless joined with a healthy dose of of other words that come with actual thought applied to an actual situation, make me certain you are probably just relationally lazy. Don't get me wrong. I understand, better than many, that it's hard work. I'm a super introvert. It is against my very nature to prolong any conversation. Still, people are alive and worth caring about - save your meaningless platitudes for your plants. Think how you'd want to be treated and consider trying to do just a little better than that. Truisms ring false. Listen more. Make an effort - people aren't stupid - even when they're hurting or vulnerable. They know when you're not trying. Even a tiny piece of information shared may not have been as simple to give up as you might think. They've valued you enough to share. Be grateful. Be responsive. Or you may not get a second chance. If you have no idea what to say, quiet is sometimes the answer. Nod. Thank them for sharing. Offer to pray. Just try to say something with some of your own words that don't rhyme or slam the conversational brakes. 

In summary, don't be a jerk. (wait, I can do better than that...)

Seriously, while your platitudes may be meaningless, harmless words, the attitude of apathy that comes with them is dangerous and contagious. Care! Compose your very own sentence for someone. It's hard, but worth it. Caring is contagious too. Give it a whirl. You'll probably get more of it back.

I'm trying too. Good luck to us at this not being a jerk business. It's hard work.


  1. Oh Megs, I know what you mean. But just remember: Every rose has its thorn.
    Does that count?
    Heh, heh.
    Ah, the genius of Brett Michaels...but that's a post for another day...

  2. LIKE! I hate platitudes - its like pouring alcohol on a fresh wound.

  3. Persi: Guest posts welcome on Brett Michaels and roses and thorns. I can't WAIT to read that... (Please note: all midnight's mumblings posts must be composed after 10 pm)


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