"Really" isn't a punchline.

You know what I never get tired of? People who use "really" as a rhetorical punchline. I love it. It gets funnier every time I hear it. No need to elaborate, just say "really" and leave it at that. Don't clarify, just assume everyone knows what you're objecting to. And because you refuse to offer an actual opinion, point of view or argument, you get the benefit of shifting the onus of being clever onto us. Don't bother explaining yourself, let us fill in the blanks, and if we don't understand your point of view, it's our fault for not being as clever as you, instead of your fault for not communicating your thoughts to us.

Who needs descriptive words? Don't use statements like a loser, just give us a sneer and let us infer the shit out of your facial expression. Incredulity is such a complex emotion. And when you say "really," it has the added benefit of being hilarious. Anyone can do it. In fact, get ready to laugh:

Really?!

Oh man, it's so funny I want to shiv myself in the face. And for those who might think the use of "really?" (and more recently, "seriously?") is passé, here are the air dates of some of the clips used above:

  • Aug 17, 2013 - Back in the Game trailer
  • Jun 24, 2013 - AT&T Uverse Commercial
  • May 18, 2013 - Saturday Night Live
  • May 6, 2013 - David Letterman
  • Feb 23, 2012 - Bill Maher, Crazy Stupid Politics

Using "really" as a punchline is the verbal equivalent of a played-out Internet meme. It's not just a harmless, lazy, joke-template that you didn't invent or improve; it's a linguistic traffic jam. It's verbal filler that we have to wade through to get to a place of higher understanding. And no, I don't mean every use of the word "really." Believe it or not, it's still occasionally used in the inquisitive form, when you're genuinely asking for confirmation of a fact. If you don't know the difference, don't email me, or anyone else for that matter. Throw away your computer.

The problem with the use of this word is that it has no expressive nutrition and it forces me into having something common with you. You're taking some part of my being—language—then processing it in your bankrupt idea factory, and shoving the greasy package into my ears for consumption. I don't eat McDonald's in real life, why would you feed the verbal equivalent to my intellect?

242,501 people didn't understand my fast food analogy.

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