Recently I began to notice the qualifier “literally” being overused, in conversation but also on radio and television. For some reason, once I pick up on the overuse of an expression, I notice it all the time. Just last evening we were watching a little television, and on two different shows, characters slipped it in it on multiple occasions. I suspect some writers choose to use expressions like this one to make their dialog sound more like real life, more like us.
Of course, in conversation our brains scramble and reach to find effective qualifiers. I’m no different. Literally is sometimes used when figuratively would be more appropriate, but it isn’t misuse of the expression that bugs my butt, but overuse. We use literally as a gentle but firm intensifier – I’m not exaggerating, I’m not kidding. I get that.
Unfortunately, with overuse the expression loses its mojo. It has simply become filler. It could be worse. For instance, how many times have you heard people in conversation who only have command of the most base qualifiers, such as fuckin this or fuckin that. Fuckin eh.
Previously, it was overuse of the word iconic that grated upon my soul. I decided to strike that word from my vocabulary, at least for a few years. You won’t catch me uttering the word. Now I’m literally going to have to do the same for literally.
Poof, it’s gone.