Phrasing

After my recent disagreement with my friend over his poor taste in revenge humor, I’ve decided there are phrases we need to stop using. They never work as intended and my instinctive response is to all of them is “Fuck off.” Here’s why these phrases never work.

Lighten up

What it’s supposed to mean: It’s a joke. Find the funny.

What it really means: My (somewhat offensive) joke fell flat. Rather than accept this, I’m going to get defensive about my ability to be funny and completely dismiss you.

How it’s usually taken: The recipient gets more offended and thinks you’re allergic to listening. Finds the joke even less funny than before.

Calm Down

What it’s supposed to mean: You need to mellow out to improve the situation.

What it really means: I don’t like that you’re being this reactive/emotional. I don’t want to deal with this. Please stop.

How it’s usually taken: THAT WAS CALM! (emotions escalate by a factor of 9,000)

Cheer up

What it’s supposed to mean: Don’t be so unhappy. I want to see you be happy.

What it really means: I don’t like you when you’re depressed/sad. I don’t want to be around you when you’re like this so please stop being like this.

How it’s usually taken: You’re uninterested in the reason I’m unhappy. Rather than care and listen, you want me to pretend I don’t have problems so you don’t have to feel guilty for not caring.

No offense

What it’s supposed to mean: I’m going to say something you may not want to hear.

What it really means: I’m going to say something offensive and probably unnecessary. Because I used a disclaimer, you can’t be mad at me.

How it’s usually taken: Braces for offensive statement. Debates the value of calling you on your shit or just smiling, nodding, and thinking you’re an idiot.

Smile

What it’s supposed to mean: Be happy!

What it really means: I’d rather look at someone smiling. If you’re not happy, you’re of no value to me.

How it’s usually taken: I’m not here for your viewing pleasure OR Let me turn my emotions on and off since they make you uncomfortable.

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