17. Dictionary Definition: Open up a dictionary to a random word. Define what that word means to you.
When looking up the word of the day on Merriam-Webster I discovered it to be nimrod. As amusing as that word is, and the endless possibilities it creates for this post I decided to break the rules and pick a not so random word. I’m also very tired and the word nimrod deserves a clever post, which I don’t think I’m really capable of right now.
The word I chose comes with a short anecdote. When I was in high school I met a girl who I forced my friendship upon. She is introverted, reserved, and I’m…not. I’m what they call, “aggressively friendly.” The quieter you are the louder and weirder I become. Whenever I meet a shy person my instinct is to overcompensate. Despite our differences we became close friends, but the most important thing we shared is that we were, what do you call it? Oh right, slackers. We were procrastinators of the highest caliber, and enabled this behavior in each other for all four years of high school.
We would study for a quiz the period before. Screw up chemistry labs, and be bickering over a shared history assignment when the class was supposed to remain quiet. Whenever one of these events would occur, or when the stress of our work loads began to overwhelm us we would look at each other, shrug and say, “its fine.”
“It’s fine,” has remained our motto in life well after high school. The inspiration for this post actually came from an article I saw on twitter with the title, Everything is Fine And Other Lies I Tell Myself When Things Are Falling Apart. I didn’t even have to read it. I sent a screenshot to my friend and she replied back, “oh look, someone wrote my biography.” I couldn’t help but laugh after scrolling through the short piece. Mostly because it reminded me of all the times I’ve tried to gloss over the fact that something was really wrong. Fine never means fine. So what does it mean?
Fine /fīn/ adj. good, acceptable, or satisfactory — used in an ironic way to refer to things that are not good or acceptable.
Even Merriam-Webster is aware that when we use the word fine we rarely mean that things are acceptable. “Fine,” has become a placeholder. The word to fill in the blank when we can’t say what we really mean, or maybe when we can’t accept what we’re really feeling. It means nothing. It’s the universal knee jerk reaction to when someone asks us how we are. Placeholders have become increasingly prominent in our culture, and maybe for a good reason. I mean, do you really want to prolong your pleasantries for an extra few minutes? Do you really feel like listening to my problems?
If you have the privilege of being my friend then maybe you do. Any other acquaintance could care less about my use of, “I’m fine.” Because the people I see have their own placeholders to throw around so they can continue on with their day. We are impatient, and we are lazy. Too lazy to come up with a better description of our current state and too impatient to take the time to converse about that state with others.
And because of these two characteristics we have lost the skill of conversation. Now I could take up more space to share my opinion but since I love TED talks I’m going to leave you with this video:
I hope you’re doing better than fine, and I hope someone gives you the chance to say what you really are.