Thursday, October 2, 2008

Nondescript Descriptions

When you're reading a well-written book, it's generally expected that each of the characters in it will have unique characteristics separating them from each other, so that it doesn't feel like you're reading about a bunch of cardboard cutouts who all have the same personality. There are certain words, in my own writing and speaking, that I like to avoid. One of those words is "nice." Another is "cute." Sometimes, those words actually make sense. For instance, a two year old is cute. A weekend can be nice.

But when someone is describing a guy to me and the only adjective I get is "nice," well, great - so I know he's not a bully. But what does that really tell me? If you think of all your good friends, I'll bet you can describe them all as "nice." But that would be lumping them all together in the "nice" category when there are so many things which set them apart! So if someone thinks a guy is good for a girl - why? Because they're both nice people? So many people are nice! That's almost like saying, "he's a guy" (I know, I know, there are also plenty of people out there who aren't nice, but still). Why else? Why should this particular nice girl want to date this particular nice guy?

This extends even outside dating. If you want to recommend someone for any reason - there's always got to be more you can say about him/her than just "nice."

The issue I have with "cute" is that it often gets used in an "lol" kind of way. If someone tells you a story or about something that happened to him/her and you respond, "cute," it's often just a way of saying, "I don't have much to respond to that so I'm going to brush it off with this little useful word that doesn't really mean anything in this context." Some people actually use it in a way that means they were interested, but way too often it's used in a patronizing kind of fashion. Think about how it would feel if you were the other person - if you had just expended all this energy telling a story and the only response you got was "cute." People use "lol" in much the same way. How many people actually find something funny when they type "lol" (I'm not even going to ask about how many people actually laugh, because that's even fewer). But at least "lol" is not a real word, so it's useful for its purpose.

Cute is also used to describe a person another girl thinks is somewhat amusing, but not really anything more than that. As in, "Her? Oh, she's cute." Or, "aw, she's really cute." Um, hello, if you're not at least ten years older than me, it's very offensive to be thought of in such a patronizing manor! It means you don't take me seriously, you just see me as a little girl.

"Cute," "nice," so many other know what they are? They are masks for people's laziness. We can all, I assure you, think of better ways to describe someone than just "nice" and we can all, if we put in a little effort, react better to the things people tell us than just "cute." I'm not saying anyone should be overly self-conscious about speaking (although it's generally a good idea to think a little before you speak) - I'm just saying it would be nice if people could put in a little more thought while interacting with someone else.

If I were to describe myself, I would not say merely "nice." And if I were to describe this blog, I would not say, "it's cute." I don't think those descriptions really give a taste of anyone, or anything, even on just a surface level.


the apple said...

"Cute," "nice," so many other know what they are? They are masks for people's laziness.


G said...

Hold on just a you desire for people to put thought and effort into their statements?

Don't make me lol

SJ said...

This post is insightful, perceptive, thorough and generally accurate. It is also cute. And nice. :P

Um, hello, if you're not at least ten years older than me, it's very offensive to be thought of in such a patronizing manor!

A patronizing manor? I can just see it...and it's not a house I'd want to inhabit, no matter how stately. I certainly hope no one thinks of our apartment as a patronizing manor!

(Sorry...I couldn't hold myself back :)

Ezzie said...

What a nice, cute post! :)

Also, from a recent chat - as in, a few minutes ago:

Ez: we ate with them yesterday!
they're fun
Erachet: I don't know him, but she's very nice
Ez: whatever :P
Erachet: er, fun

...just sayin'.

Erachet said...

Apple - Yup!

G - Silly me.

SJ - LOL. For real :)

Ezzie - :P (in a "you're mean" sort of way)

corner point said...

Great point.

But...sometimes someone just *is*...nice. And you mean it as "nice". Y'know?

RaggedyMom said...

I'm almost old enough to call you cute!! Yay!

Enjoy your trip, cutie!