Awright, technically I know what it means. (Even I am not that ignorant of my native tongue.) But what do we mean by it? (… is what I mean. You know what I mean.) Are we trying to say, “Hey, look, I’m sorta saying this, but not really”? Is it some sort of Wizard of Oz invocation: “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”?
It just reminds me of my former pet peeve phrases, “Not for anything, ha…” and “In fairness…” While I certainly applaud the pursuit of fairness as an ideal, I don’t think that that’s really what these phrases are meant to accomplish. I think they are intended to serve as disclaimers.
Now, I understand that disclaimers have their place and their purpose. (Heck, I have one on this very blog—I even started this post out with one!) Perhaps we just don’t want to offend anyone, or we’re afraid of being misconstrued. But how have we become so habitually unable to just come out and say whatever it is we have to say? Why do we feel the need to metaphorically post a warning that says, in effect, “Yeah, okay, I’m saying this, but it’s not because I mean it or mean anything by it or intend you to actually infer meaning from it”?
This probably sounds funny coming from me—I’m the person who goes around literally slapping her friends’ wrists for saying the N word instead of the word “black”—but come on, people! Refraining from verbal bigotry is one thing, attaching escape clauses to a simple greeting or personal anecdote is another—and to me, really quite troubling—matter entirely.
When did we become so afraid to stand up and mean what we say?
And when are we gonna get our balls back?