Daily Archives: December 2, 2020

A Platitudinous Society

Note: I wrote this back in April, so some of the below will seem a bit dated (showing how quickly things change, especially this year).

“Stay safe.”

“Stay Healthy.”

“We’re all in this together.”

A while back I saw a YouTube video about how all commercials now sound the same with some of the same platitudes above.

Someone posted on Twitter: “When this is over, the terms ‘Social Distancing,’ and ‘flatten the curve’ need to be abolished from American vernacular forever…”

To which I responded, “I want to rip the lips off everyone who tells me to ‘stay safe,’ or ‘stay healthy.’”

We could blame social media and the prevalence of memes and platforms like Twitter where pith is king, but the tendency to use platitudes didn’t begin there. We’ve been using them forever. For example, how long have people plastered bumper stickers on their vehicles? Over 50 years, I’m certain—at least since the 60s.

That and platitudes seem kind and make sense at first. Because really, should I truly want to rip the lips off someone who’s only expressing concern?

My problem isn’t with short, sometimes legitimately thoughtful phrases. It’s that they stop there. It’s like asking, “how are you?” and at the same time hoping that person doesn’t dive into a ten-minute soliloquy of their terrible, no good, very bad day.

Telling people to stay safe and healthy doesn’t feed their family, give them their job or business back, allow them to visit friends or family—especially those in the hospital or nursing home, and who may end up dying alone without the opportunity to say goodbye.

It doesn’t alleviate their anxiety, hopelessness, and despair.

Really, are these new platitudes any different than telling a parent after a miscarriage that, “You’ll see the baby in heaven,” “It was God’s will,” or “You can always try for another?”

I watched one of Dennis Prager’s Fireside Chats, and one thing he said is that everything we do has a price. One of the problems we’re having now by attempting to “stay safe and healthy” from this virus is we’re ignoring many a devastating price for doing so.