Log Illustrated - a publication from the Physics RoomLog 9 - Lists
Log 9 - Lists

The twenty worst things a person can say
Naomi Rousseau


"Cheer up it might never happen."
Translation: I'm just some idiot who walked past you in the street and yet I already know so much about you and your life that not only can I interpret your facial expression but I feel qualified to comment about whether 'it' is likely to happen and whether or not that would be a good thing.

"You'd look much better if you smiled."
Translation: Contrary to what you believe, your facial expression, and indeed your brain, are not your own property. While they are in the 'public sphere' you have a duty to your fellow citizens to maintain a facial expression that they would like to see. Also, I know that my opinion of your appearance is an issue very close to your heart.

"How do you manage to eat so much and still be so thin?"

Translation: I am so obsessed with my weight that I can't believe that there is someone who isn't secretly thinking about their weight all the time. I can't stand the sight of someone thinner than me eating, so I will continue to hound you until you confess to being bulimic / a junkie / in the gym for the 23 hours a day you aren't eating in front of me. I will comment about it any time I see you eating, and if you try to avoid eating in front of me that will just prove that you are anorexic, so I can then give you superior, 'concerned' looks. I can't accept that some people are just thinner than others, in spite of scientific, and indeed visual, evidence to the contrary, as I get all my information about such matters from 'women's' magazines that rely heavily on advertisements from the dieting industry and therefore don't want to encourage women to be happy with, or even resigned to, the size they are.

"If you can't say something nice then you shouldn't say anything."
Translation: Just shut up.

"I'm sorry if you were upset by what I said/did."
Translation: I'm not sorry, but convention demands that I apologise at this point, so I will do so in an annoying way that lets you know that I don't think I have anything to apologise for. It's so much easier than trying to argue my point of view in an intelligent way that might convince you that I was right. And it's so much more satisfying than actually admitting that you were right and I was wrong and apologising properly. If you continue to be angry at me then I will just point out that I have already apologised so you should just drop the matter. Even if you were right.

"What are you reading that for?"
Translation: I haven't read a book other than Mills and Boon since a) I was at school or b) I was at university (not to learn anything of course, just to please my parents and improve my career prospects). I can't believe anyone would read a book like that unless they were forced to. I am sure you would secretly rather be reading Take a Break magazine, you are just reading it to make yourself look more intelligent than me. I really hope so anyway. If you keep reading I will get very, very angry at you and accuse you of being elitist. How dare you read a book! What are you reading for at your age anyway? Once you leave school/university you should let your brain wither and die, like mine.

"It's easy to criticise."

Translation: I've never tried to criticise anything intelligently, I prefer to blindly lash out with clichés. It's so much easier to produce bad art/music/writing and condemn anyone who criticises it. I believe so strongly that the worst art is superior to the most beautifully argued criticism that I have never examined this opinion or tried to argue why it is right. I just put down anyone who doesn't agree with it by saying that they are 'not creative'. Creative people are nice, anyone not creative is awful. Everyone should create things all the time, not enough stuff has been created yet, create more stuff please, just create anything, just blindly, mindlessly create, all of you. We shouldn't read/look at/listen to anything anyone else has created as this might distract us from creating more things of our own. And don't even think of expressing an opinion about something that someone else created. What gives you the right to criticise?

"You haven't given it a chance."
Translation: I like this music/thing/situation and I will not accept that we are not all the same and that you don't like it. Also, I think only very, very slowly, so I can't believe you have formed an opinion in such a short space of time.

"Why do you have to be so negative?"
Translation: Just shut up why don't you? Didn't I just tell you to shut up? In spite of all the things wrong in the world I would prefer it if you only mentioned things that are nice. And I'd prefer it even more if you'd just shut up.

"Do you have to react negatively to things I say?"
Translation: I care so little about your opinion that I'd rather you just blindly agreed with everything I say, regardless of what you really think. Just keep your horrid little opinions to yourself why don't you. The fact that I speak to you doesn't mean I want to know what you think, it's just a reflex action which shouldn't be taken seriously. So either agree, or just shut the fuck up.

"I feel . . ."
Translation: I am about to express an opinion, but I fear that you may contradict me and I am not prepared to argue in favour of this opinion as I haven't really thought about it properly, so I'll say 'I feel . . .' rather than 'I think . . .' as that way you can't argue with me because how would you know how I feel? Anyway, feelings are pure and nice, thinking is so clinical and inhuman, and it's 'masculine' and therefore bad, women shouldn't think, they just know things intuitively and don't have to back it up with reasoning.

"That's your opinion."
Translation: I have nothing to say that can add to or counter your opinion, I believe I can somehow undermine it just by labelling it as an opinion, and stating the obvious has long been a hobby of mine.

"I'm not racialist (sic) but . . ."
Translation: I am racist, but I suspect you're not, and I don't have the courage of my convictions and would surely lose any argument about the subject. I'm also rather stupid, and I think the phrase "I'm not racialist (sic) . . ." acts as a talisman enabling me to say anything I like, even something as preposterous as "I'm not racist, it's the niggers that are racist!" like that man in the pub in Camberwell. If you don't go along with my little ploy then I'll sneer at you for being PC (whatever that stands for), I can't imagine that you would have actually thought about racism and concluded that it is stupid and you disagree with it, I don't examine any of my opinions, so I presume you are the same and you are just pretending not to be racist to avoid offending people. The fact that you are going out of your way to offend me and the other racists in the room doesn't alter my opinion. Like I said, I'm a bit stupid.

"Have you swallowed the dictionary?"

Translation: Did you just use a long word? I don't use long words. Neither do any of my friends. Using words of more than two syllables is unnecessary. We don't need long words. Or words of any length that I don't yet know. No, we don't need subtleties of meaning, those words are just there to confuse people, and you are being deliberately perverse by using them. I'm not going to take it as a compliment that you thought I was intelligent enough to say something to me that was complex enough to require words not used in everyday conversation. And I'm not going to ask you what that word means, the way you did when you first heard it. I'm going to get very angry and accuse you of being a snob. Only a snob would think I knew what a long word meant, or imagine that someone deserved to be taught a new word.

"Hitler did/thought/liked . . ."
Translation: I know very little about Hitler or the history of Nazi Germany. I just think of Hitler as a trump card to use in arguments. Anything associated with Hitler must be Nazi in its very nature. If Hitler trained as an architect, goddamn it I'm going to say architects are Nazis. If Hitler had brown eyes then anyone with brown eyes must be destroyed.

e.g. My sister described something or someone as 'intelligent' in a university tutorial during a discussion that was in no way related to Nazism. Another student glared at her and said "Hitler was intelligent".

"It's natural."
Translation: I believe that anything natural is good and anything unnatural, or man made, is bad. I will continue to follow this belief blindly, although the way I live is very far removed from a 'state of nature'. Animals are natural, so is 'the rainforest', they are nice. Factories are manmade, and bad. The fact that adequate nutrition, birth control, paper, telephones, pets and other things that make my life bearable are not natural is something I quietly ignore, though its roar may be deafening to you. I will also ignore the fact that not everything in the world can be divided into 'natural' and 'unnatural'. What do you mean 'false dichotomy'? Did you just use a long word? Can't you just shut up?

"You just like that because you're trying to be different."
Translation: You like a thing that I've never heard of! I feel sure I've heard of most things, I read the paper and watch television! You are just trying to draw attention to the fact that you've heard of a thing that I haven't heard of. You can't actually like it. I think it's awful, and I don't believe anyone thinks anything different from me. You're really just like me, you're just pretending you're not to make yourself look clever. Well it's not working.

"I used to think like that when I was your age."

Translation: I have completely sold out any principles I once had. I call it pragmatism and I like to believe it was inevitable, otherwise I might feel like I was somehow responsible and I would have to face the fact that I have become the kind of person I always hated, or even worse I'd have to give up some of the comforts I have gained in exchange for selling my soul. To avoid opening this can of worms I'll just smile patronisingly and write off your views as some harmless, if childish, game that you'll grow out of, like I did. What do you mean you're older than I am?

"Grammar isn't important." or "Only fascists care about grammar." as some genius I met once put it.

Translation: I never bothered to learn those funny dots you put in sentences, although I had every opportunity to do so, and I'd rather you didn't know how to use them either. In fact I'd rather no one did, so we could all be equal, as being equal is good. So what if leaving some dots out changes the meaning? How important can the meaning be? Only a fascist would want everyone to be able to use their own language and therefore have the ability to argue with people more powerful than them.

"Why can't you be more positive?"
Translation: Shut up! Just shut up why don't you? I said shut up!



Log Illustrated - a publication from the Physics Room