You may have the vocabulary to know that that is not, in fact, how to correctly use the word photosynthesis. It never has and I hope it never will be. But, what is your one word? The one word you use as a filler or as placeholders for the actual words you should be using. I use ‘like’ all the time and probably use placeholders more than I realise.
Let’s focus on ‘like’ for a sentence or two. I use ‘like’ to the point that on the off occasion that I use it correctly, it still sounds wrong. Why? By using the word too often I’ve in depleted its meaning.
Now, let’s shift to a broader set of words. The words that written here would perhaps cause you discomfort and may even cause you to exit this blog and travel far, far away: swear words, curse words, cuss words. Whatever you want to call them, they are words nonetheless. Each of these words has a current meaning and the strength of the meaning is determined by the users.
Imagine this. You’re at a party and your favourite chocolate is there along with 9 other types of chocolate. If you don’t like chocolate, feel free to the chocolate with something else that is solid food. Before you realise that your favourite is there, you see the other 9 types. You’ve been craving chocolate, so you settle. They’re bite-sized pieces, so you take and eat one of each. You don’t like some them, but you eat them anyway. After all, they are chocolate. After chocolate #9, you finally notice your most favourite chocolate is right there in front of you. You’re overjoyed and still craving chocolate, so you take it and eat it. Sadly, the flavours of the other chocolates mask the flavour of the chocolate, especially those that you didn’t like. It’s too late though.
Too often we crave immediately expressing how we feel instead of patiently looking for the right word, the best word. One common case of this is the use of profanity. When profanity is used excessively, as a placeholder, it loses its meaning and becomes just another ‘like’. I think that there are times when profanity is the chocolate #10, what we’ve been looking for, but more often, it’s not. It’s what we use, because we don’t feel like looking for the right word or choose not to.
Using ‘like’ and swearing constantly are both popular additions to everyday communication. Making the conscious choice not to use either may be looked down on, but in academic and certain religious circles it may bump up your status.
Regardless of what your beliefs or thoughts are on the usage of swear words, you should be aware of your usage. If you really do love swearing, why take away the words meanings through overuse? And if you think it is never appropriate, stay true to that, even when it’s easier to stop looking for the right words.