I’m not sure when or why it became a thing. I can’t remember if it was a spoof first or if the spoof came after. All I know if there’s some serious language abuse going on.
I scowl only at the GenX’ers who do this because I think they should know better. I don’t know why I think they should, but I think they should.
So to you Millennials and Baby Boomers who are killing me with this shit:
Literally means actually, or without exaggeration. It is NOT the exaggeration itself.
When John Green uses “We are literally in the heart of Jesus,” as the pastor’s favorite saying in The Fault in Our Stars, he’s telling all of us that misusing “literally” is fucking ridiculous.
We cannot be literally in the heart of Jesus because he’s a) not a living person, b) not a national park, c) not big enough to hold human beings inside himself, d) all of the above.
When I hear people say, “I was literally on the floor laughing,” and I think, “Um, no. You probably were not,” I mostly just want to erase them from the planet.
Not in a their-family-would-miss-them way, but in a Please Don’t Vote. Ever. kind of way.
It’s not that hard to misuse words. People do it all the time. I hear them say things like “I would never do that,” when, really, “never” is far from true.
Or “I always think that,” but actually, “always” isn’t the right word for that at all. You cannot always be thinking any one thing. Sometimes you’re thinking something else.
Superlatives are prone to abuse. They know it. They’re fine with it and I am, too. Honestly. I may repeat them to the person who’s abused them, “Really?” I’ll say, “You’d NEVER?”
I get that superlatives are gonna get abused.
But “literally”? It’s not superlative, it’s barely an adjective. It’s like a noun pretending to be an adjective. Literal is an actual state of being. It’s what-you-see-is-what-you-get. It’s the honest, balls-out truth.
So literally is the adjective of that state.
When you misuse literally, you’re lying. If you’re not in any way actually “literally” doing what you say you’re doing, then it’s misrepresentation at the least. At worst, it’s you trying to sound purposeful and lacking the vocabulary to make your case. Find a word-of-the-day calendar and move on. Perambulate. Mosey. Peregrinate.
If you think you are “literally” anything, ask yourself, “Am I balls-out, honest-to-Somebody’s God truly this?” Because if you’re not, stop fucking saying literally.
Or I’ll think you’re an idiot.
And probably a Millennial.