Overdone politeness and redundant nonsense

by Captain Walker

Categories: Humanities

First off, I expect some readers to require an understanding of the word ‘redundant’ – because, you know, we’re into such a stupid era, that people will automatically reach for what’s in their heads. So if they think ‘redundant’ means something to do with redundancy – as per being made redundant in employment – well.. oh well.. there could be much idiotic comment or question thereafter.  And many do not realise that the concept of ‘redundancy’ in employment is derived from the core meaning of ‘redundant’.

Right – so what’s this all about? I’ve had it up to the back teeth with a silly phenomenon which has been growing in the UK over the last 10 years. Yes – it’s been growing slowly – and a few minutes ago, it came to a last straw situation. Just hold on. Let me unfold this.

I was reading some website which said “We hope that all eligible doctors who are currently overseas and have been working for the past five years will use, should they wish to, this opportunity to apply to have their names entered onto the Specialist Register.” Why should that ‘get to me’ – you may wonder? You see, I too can think like you do. I used to think like you. [You means ‘you’ – anybody who’s reading this.] I too can say, “Oh it seems like a perfectly natural thing to say!

I however think it’s a perfectly stupid thing to say – and I don’t intend to convince you to my point of view. “What’s so stupid!!? Is this you and your pedantic arrogance again!?” – you scream. Look, if I’m offering you ice-cream then surely you would accept it if you wished to. Do you ever offer ice-cream to someone – as dessert for example – and say, “Would you like to have some ice-cream, if you wish to”? It’s bledy understood that you are big enough to decide if you ‘wish to’. There is no bledy need to say ‘if you wish to’.  I don’t need a lecture on ‘cultural form’ – thank you very much.

Earlier today I was witness to a similar situation –which had happened several times over the last four weeks. It goes like this:

A: ‘What was the situation with…….

B: (responds) – ‘As far as I’m aware.. (blah..blah..blah).”

I will always have a problem with this sort of answer. I’ll always see it as unnecessarily defensive.  You don’t get it – do you?

  1. Does anybody expect you to know factually about that which you are unaware of? It sounds stupid to me to say ‘As far as I’m aware..’
  2. So to say ‘as far as I’m aware’ is to immediately set up a defence, so that if it transpires at some point in the future that what was stated was not correct the individual could then say, ‘I told you I wasn’t aware’.
  3. So the effect of this ‘as far as I’m aware’ is redundant unnecessary back-covering. But some people see it as being ‘polite’ or a ‘way of speaking’ that doesn’t mean much. I’ll disagree with them.

But is there really a need to be so defensive? Actually I think this is some sort of culturally accepted over-defensiveness turned paranoia.  Should I now be qualifying all my answers to something like, “At this moment in time, I’d say no – to the extent of the facts I know now”. What the devil is this? Are we holding court in everyday life?

Well, I’m not having it. My statements will avoid the nonsensical ‘if you wish to’, ‘subject to’, ‘as far as I’m aware’. Why can’t I make a statement and people understand that I’m saying what I’m saying based on my present knowledge? It is ridiculous to always refer to that which I am ‘aware’ of or ‘unaware of’.

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