Top Five Phrases You Need to Stop Using

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

There are things that piss me off… Pet Peeves, Office Pet Peeves, Convention Pet Peeves, Freelancer Pet Peeves and Angering statements for a short list.

There are, however, quicker ways to piss me off. The following phrases need to be forgotten to history and absolutely guarantee making me mad.

5. I’m Just Playing Devil’s Advocate

Movie poster for The Devils Advocate 1997

If you’re not Al Pacino or Keanu Reeves, I don’t want to hear it.

This is the preferred phrase for people who know they’re going to piss you off for fun. It’s a tell that they are arguing for the sake of arguing and that they don’t care about your feelings.

Don’t. Just don’t.

4. Do Your Research

Sherlock Holmes from the Sherlock BBC show saying, “I’m not a psychopath, Anderson, I’m a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research.

Just like the image above. This phrase is used by people who fundamentally missed the point. Their idea of research is a good emotional Netflix or Youtube propaganda film or some conspiracy site. It’s not just an annoying phrase, but an indication that you’re probably dealing with someone with a huge ego that truly believes the bullshit coming from their mouths.

Don’t say it unless you want me to picture you with a foil hat. (and probably block, unfriend, etc.)

3. Survival of the Fittest

Sign that reads, “Please do not lick the walls” from a background image in Good Omens 2019.

Survival of the fittest is a bullshit name for an incomplete theory that people have taken to mean that it’s okay if people die.

There’a great article from New Scientist that explains the flaw in this. Evolution myths: ‘Survival of the fittest’ justifies ‘everyone for themselves’

Evolution and survival are not streamlined to only the strong. It’s messy and random.

This phrase has been co-opted by business and competitions. More recently by jackasses that are trying to push a Eugenic point of view with regard to Covid-19.

Seeing as most of my friends and family would be considered weak by these people… Just don’t use the phrase.

We Have to Consider Both Sides

Photo of Patton Oswalt with dog. Quote on the side reads:
You’ve gotta respect everyone’s beliefs.” No, you don’t. That’s what gets us in trouble. Look, you have to acknowledge everyone’s beliefs, and then you have to reserve the right to go: “That is fucking stupid. Are you kidding me?”
The Full quote not shown on the image continues:
I acknowledge that you believe that, that’s great, but I’m not going to respect it. I have an uncle that believes he saw Sasquatch. We do not believe him, nor do we respect him!”

There’s so much emphasis on balance and respect when it comes to arguments. Not people, but arguments. There are extremes ON BOTH SIDES, you have to understand BOTH SIDES, BOTH SIDES are entitled to their opinions.

Stop, just stop. Yes, there are arguments that have complex issues where you need to look at both sides. But the moment someone starts to devalue another person’s life, I refuse to listen to both sides.

Giving a Nazi, or an Anti-vaxx person the same podium to speak validates their opinion. By saying, “Their are good people on both sides” you tell the world that it’s okay to hate others and want them dead if you’re nice about it.

The value of human life should not be a political issue.

Calm Down / Don’t Get Emotional

Photo of Captain Picard, Chief Engineer Laforge, and other crew members looking at Data who is lying on a console. Text reads: “Install an emotion chip they said / You’ll act normal they said”

There’s a great theme that runs throughout Star Trek. That of the importance of balancing logic and emotion. We see it with Spock, Data, the Doctor, Odo, T’Pol, Burnham, and Spock again.

Wild unchecked emotion is destructive, unfettered logic is cold and heartless. But it seems that when talking to people about something you’re passionate about, the phrases ‘calm down’ or ‘don’t get emotional’ are the quickest way to dismiss your passion.

When talking about something you love or feel passionate about, you will be emotional and, in my opinion, you shouldn’t be calm.

It’s also a wonderful way to make anyone angry. It’s dismissive and condescending.


What common phrases do you think we should stop using?

Stay Safe,

Éric

The Fallacy of Relative Privation

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

When you’re arguing, there are certain types of arguments that are called Fallacies.

A fallacy is an incorrect argument in logic and rhetoric which undermines an argument’s logical validity or more generally an argument’s logical soundness. (Wikipedia)

Like most things, once you know about them you’ll have a hard time not seeing them everywhere.

FRP

The Fallacy that’s been really pissing me off lately is “The Fallacy of Relative Privation.” It’s the one parents on TV use to make their kids eat liver, “Eat. There are starving kids in Africa.”

The reason this particular fallacy angers me is its dismissive nature. It effectively says that instead of being upset about your problems, you should be thankful they aren’t worse. In other words, stop your whining it’s not that bad.

It’s a toxic attitude for three reasons: it devalues personal experiences, encourages harmful behaviour, and it’s easily internalized.

Devaluing Personal Experiences

Let me make something clear: No one has the right to tell you what you’re feeling isn’t valid. Cutting my finger doesn’t hurt any less because someone else cut theirs completely off.

Not everyone experiences life the same way and it’s both wrong and egotistical to assume they do. A veteran from a war where there was heavy bombing my have his PTSD triggered by fireworks. To tell that veteran that they’re overreacting or should be happy they still have their legs is cruel.

People will often use this fallacy with victims of emotional or sexual abuse. “At least they didn’t…” is a terrible thing to say to someone who’s recovering from a trauma.

Both examples here are why trigger warnings are important. And if you read the previous statement and thought, “Not all trigger warnings are real” or “but trigger warnings have been taken too far,” then you’re devaluing someone else’s personal experience.

Encouraging Harmful Behaviour

Not everyone has the same experiences, not everyone experiences things the same way, and what’s good for one person isn’t always good for everyone.

Let’s get back to the argument that you should eat everything on your plate because someone else has no food. Sounds logical right?

Let’s convert that to something else; hats. Now there are places in the world where you are not allowed to wear hats and there are people who can’t afford hats. Does this mean you should always wear a hat? Since others can’t, should you wear multiple hats?

No, the answer is no and encouraging people to eat beyond what they’re hungry for sets a terrible precedence for health.

It goes beyond just eating though, we live in a culture that says you should look or feel a certain way, and if a celebrity can do it why can’t you? (The answer is that it’s their job and they have the time and money to make it work. Even then, they can’t always, and that’s why they use photoshop.)

Mental health is extremely different from person to person. What would hurt one person might not be noticed by another. Just because one person has life worse doesn’t mean your depression isn’t bad.

Internalized (AKA the fallacy we use on ourselves)

The scariest part of this fallacy is how easily we can internalize it. How easily we can start believing that we are over exaggerating and should be thankful it’s not worse.

I shouldn’t be upset, because X lost his job, and Y was in a car accident.

This is the point where I need to repeat:

No one has the right to tell you what you’re feeling isn’t valid. Especially you!

In Conclusion

We may be going through the same thing, but experiencing it completely differently. Let yourself hurt without being made to feel guilty. What you’re feeling is valid to you.

Do not let people use this fallacy to make you complacent. Your problems might be less than others, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to fix them.

 

Later Days,

Éric