I’m Just Joking…

There’s not much I can think of that tops my list of “phrases I really hate” than that one.  Most often you’ll find it strategically placed after someone has taken offense to something you have said.  Or, better yet, you’re not sure if someone has taken offense although you feel that there is a strong probability that they have.  So you have to protect yourself.  Throw that up there like some sort of ambiguous coat of armour.  Was that or wasn’t it an insult? Were they just kidding?

I’ve disliked that phrase as long as I can remember.  In fact, I remember those goof ball junior high boys saying “Amanda…Matt really likes you”.  And then as soon as the thought evolved as a potential reality in my head (and my cheeks flushed a lovely shade of purple), inevitably one of them would say “I’m just joking!  But look at how red she is!!”.  Crap heads. Or better still when someone says something and your reaction is clearly not what they are expecting.  Consider the following scenario:

“Hey…I’m thinking of leaving my husband for that guy I met the last time I took the mini van in for inspection.”

“Really?  The guy who has the wife who volunteers all of her time at the soup kitchen while caring for their 3 year old triplets?”

“Nah…I’m just joking.  I just wanted to see what you would say.”

Way to backpedal yourself right the heck out of that situation.  Problem is, “I’m just joking” assumes most people are idiots.  And, while there are days when I certainly wonder, I would like to think (in the moments I spend in Never Never Land) that, for the most part, people are able to catch on to this stuff.  The word “joke” itself means something said or done to provoke amusement or laughter (Dictionary.com).  I have yet to hear or produce a light-hearted giggle after someone has used this phrase on me.

There’s nothing more annoying to us grammar freaks than the misuse of a word.  Seriously.  Don’t use “joking” if you’re not.  Consider the above conversation again…but substitute in blatant honesty…

“Hey…I’m thinking of leaving my husband for that guy I met the last time I took the mini van in for inspection.”

“Really?  The guy who has the wife who volunteers all of her time at the soup kitchen while caring for their 3 year old triplets?”

“Yes…that one.”

See how easy that is?  Now you’ve said it…and now you get to take accountability for it.  Oooohhhhh….accountability.  The scariest word of the 21st century.  Accountability…a trait that went out with the 8 track player.  There’s another blog here waiting to come out…

 

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