Friday, 20 May 2016

three words game

A Facebook friend posted the following:

Silly game doing the rounds: what are the three words that are the absolutely least likely words to be used to describe you ?
What interested me was how people went about answering this question--i.e. "think of how I'd describe myself, then think of the opposite".

I used a different strategy: pick three words that probably wouldn't cross my mind when thinking about myself. I'd maintain this is the more reliable strategy.

Others have mostly chosen some fairly broad scalar adjectives, this means:

  1. They're all relative. The person who says they'd never be described as tall might well be so described by a four-year-old. Someone might well say he's too monogamous for my liking about someone else who thinks they're unlikely to be described as monogamous.
  2. Some of words can apply to different things. You may be unlikely to be described as conservative in your politics (though, see (1), you might well be conservative in comparison to someone else). But what about your haircut? The way you load the dishwasher? The way you make bets at the races? You may well be conservative in some domain.
  3. Even if you're at the lowest extreme of the scale of tallness, monogamy, conservatism, you're still on that scale. So the word is likely to come up in describing you, whether it's negated or said sarcastically or whatever.
If you describe me, there will be little cause to say I'm not haemophiliac, not Korean, or a little bit pencilcase unless we traipse into metaphor. (Maybe I could have chosen a bit better for the last one, as the metaphors from it might be too close to me.)

But I'm not writing this to say that I won this game. (But, c'mon, I did.) I'm writing it to say: isn't it interesting how we immediately reach for antonyms when we think about what things are not.  I just had a slice of pizza for lunch. It was not very spicy. It was not very warm. But it was really not very periwinkle, oceanic, or batik. While the relative warmth of my pizza is relevant, it's not very much fun to think about. Thinking about the fact that my pizza was not batik might amuse me for the rest of the afternoon.

But then, that's me.

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