The Word I Hate This Week

Do you know what is the most garbage word in the English language? Harmless.

Think about it. Or, rather, let me direct your thoughts about the word: You (me) are at a nice party with some people you love, some people you like, some people you don’t know, and some people who you (I) can’t decide on. Some people who might just not understand the way they come across, or maybe have some boundary issues, or who might just be classic jerks!! Either way, when you (I) try to vocalize this feeling, you (I) do it with a disclaimer: “But [this person] is probably harmless.”

The only reason to ever use the word harmless is if you are inferring that the object or subject in question could cause harm. You’re saying that this person, or this thing, is inherently harmful, but that you trust that it will probably not cause harm. “Harmless” is, sorry, a useless phrase. I think I’ve only ever used it for dogs, men, and drugs, three of the world’s best and potentially worst things.

On Friday I went to two parties (I know omg who wants my autograph) and it was at the second party that I described someone I had bumped into between said parties as “harmless, I think,” and my friend Roddie kind of called me out on that; that’s how this whole thing started, thanks Roddie. And then on Sunday I spent THE WHOLE DAY with Monica and Emma (yes I lead a very glamorous life full of beautiful people who wants my autograph) and I asked them their feelings; had they ever used the word “harmless” when they genuinely meant “something that I know will never, ever cause me harm”? And they said they hadn’t either!! I think it was Monica who said that, particularly with people, if someone says, “Oh, [that guy] is harmless,” it means that they’ve already had to think about this. They’ve already been in a situation where they felt compelled to defend [that guy], already had a rejoinder ready to go, because that person needs it. And that is a bad fucking sign. Like I said: a garbage word that’s only used to mean the exact opposite.

I mean, maybe I’m wrong. There’s no completely useless word in the English language; just the ones I have an irrational hatred towards.

I’m still working on an alternative word to use in these situations. What should we say when we mean that something hasn’t caused harm yet, but we’re keeping said thing on high alert?

More ...