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josie's avatar

How much of what you say is meaningless?

Asked by josie (30857points) September 10th, 2017

My late parents, like a lot of 60s boomers, read Kahlil Gibran.

One of his quotes is “Half of what I say is meaningless…”

Would you say in your case, half is just about correct?

Why not reduce what you say by half, and make it all meaningful?

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21 Answers

Patty_Melt's avatar

…......
Waiting to have something meaningful to say.

josie's avatar

Take your time…

Patty_Melt's avatar

Sometimes talking is meanful, even if the content is not.
For instance, during this tense wait through Irma, power is out, cell towers compromised, and communication is less than usual.
Right now, if any of our Florida jellies simply posted “flibberty gib,” it would be a good thing, because at least we could know they are still ok.
Meaningless chatter can also be cleansing, like rinsing your mouth between food or wine samples.
I would say the term meaningful is somewhat subjective.

josie's avatar

In the context that you presented, “flibberty gib” would be meaningful.

And nobody would argue that some talk does not serve as a form of punctuation, like a comma in a sentence. Thus it would have a purpose, and purpose is often used as a synonym for meaning.

So I’m sticking to the original question.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

No. I don’t think half of what I say is meaningless. I tend to speak with purpose. I might engage in some small talk, but even small talk has purpose.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Meaningless to whom?

I guess that the real question is one of defining ‘meaninglessness’’. I talk and mutter to myself sometimes, which is meaningful to me, but you would probably say that I am babbling. So I think you need to take into account who the ‘listener’ is.

Another example: A person goes to church and the minister prattles on with some holly-roller type of sermon. To some people that is meaningful and deep and helpful. To others, it’s meaningless word salad that means nothing to them.

zenvelo's avatar

Oh geez, now I learn that John Lennon was quoting Gibran.

I keep my own counsel, and have occasionally been considered reticent.

My 7th grade shop teacher used to repeat a proverb at least three times a week: “better to be silent and thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

flutherother's avatar

“Covfefe” that’s a quote by the way and from the President of the United States of America.

CWOTUS's avatar

A lot of the communication that I originate is technical in nature: “how to” do various things in industrial safety; to complete technical reporting in online forms; to map network drives at work; to find various websites and make required entries; to perform tasks in Microsoft Excel or Access; to fix PowerPoint templates and presentations; and grammar, grammar, grammar. So I end up explaining the same thing in multiple ways pretty often (because there’s almost never “just one way” to do a thing), and because of that my communication often gets longer than it might be otherwise – because I hate to be misunderstood, or to have someone miss an important step or a clarification / qualification that changes meaning, and I don’t want to do it again, or undo an error because of misunderstanding. Like this response, then, the things I say may seem overlong. But not “meaningless”, just “unnecessary” to someone who understood quickly and wants to get to the next item.

I also spend a lot of time clarifying the ambiguous wording that a lot of educated people use to describe things poorly, and to confusingly request things that they don’t understand, and to ask if they “really mean this” when they “said that”, but “that” just isn’t even a possibility for me, and they should already know that.

So there’s that. Aside from the technical and dry “explanation” and process steps, I like jokes, puns, anecdotes and analogies, so I use those liberally, and some of them are, let’s say, more successful than others. So some of the jokes may run flat, but the analogies are pretty much spot on, I think. (There are so many analogies for the things we do, and to a reader, movie watcher, history buff and a person with many and varied experiences anyway, they just jump out of the woodwork. So there are often a lot of analogies to pick from.)

I would say that the only real “meaningless” communications I have (aside from the day-to-day pleasantries that provide the grease of interpersonal interaction in an office setting) are when I argue with idiots, which I do from time to time. And even those aren’t completely meaningless, because I always want to make my argument better, even if it’s a case of casting pearls before swine. Those pearls should still be polished to a nice sheen.

filmfann's avatar

I also didn’t know John Lennon was paraphrasing Khalil Gibran.
Both Gibran and Lennon are favorites of mine. I doubt that quote is accurate when applied to either. They were both poets, yet economical with their words.
I wish I could be that way, but I recognize my own flaws and faults, and know I fall short here, as with so many other things.

Mimishu1995's avatar

“Meaningless” is in the ears of the beholder. I’m pretty sure most of what I say is meaningless to at least some people.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

What’s the point nobody listens anyways!

NomoreY_A's avatar

I don’t care what the pundits say, it makes no difference anyway, whatever it is, I’m against it!

ZEPHYRA's avatar

At least 80% of it.

LostInParadise's avatar

What does it mean to be meaningful? If you greet someone or express appreciation or give your opinion, are these meaningful statements?

The philosopher Wittgenstein had an interesting view of language. He said that you have to look at language in context of their behavior, what he somewhat misleadingly called language games. To Wittgenstein all language is meaningful. Communication errors arise when people disagree as to what language game they are playing.

stanleybmanly's avatar

No. Meaningless is too severe. Talking is about more than communication. It’s also thinking out loud. We talk to ourselves, our pets, our pickup trucks. qr

cookieman's avatar

Well, I’m a teacher and an artist, so…about 98.875% meaningless (according to certain folks with certain socio/political leanings).

Pachy's avatar

Ugh—Damn near 100% of everything I wrote about products in the countless ads and commercials I created during my long advertising career.

AshlynM's avatar

90 percent.

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