Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Thing About Things

The other day, a friend and I were talking about the word thing.  Actually, we were talking about relationships, when she turned to me and said, "Oh so did you have a thing?" To which I replied; "What even is that?"
I mean seriously, what does that even mean?  If you think about it, the word 'thing' is probably one of the most used words in the English language, with an extremely broad definition.

For example, I could turn to you and say; "Hey can you pass me that red thing?" or I could be like, "He's really good at guitar, that's his thing."
Next time I want to skip out on some plans that I didn't really want to make, I don’t even have to give a proper explanation because "Sorry I couldn't come, I had a thing," is apparently sufficient.  It could also be used when a girlfriend comes out of the bathroom at a club going, “Oh my god I just saw his thing.”
Or if you want to admit that you like someone just be like, "I guess you could say I have a bit of a thing for him/her."
There’s also, "Do you guys have a thing?", "They had a thing, but they broke up", "Yeah there's just lots of things everywhere”, "Things just got super weird" and
"Where is the thing?"

Do you see what I mean!?  The word is flimsy.  You can pretty much chuck it anywhere and it still makes sense.  It can basically be used as a substitute when you don't know what real name of something is. (See, I just used it again…)  Because the word has so many different meanings, it can get super confusing when you’re trying to talk about something specific.  This takes me to the part about relationships.  

Alright, so imagine one day a girl sees a guy she likes from across a crowded room (clich√© I know, but just bear with me).  They strike up a conversation, perhaps they kiss.  After that they begin to see each other a few more times, but it’s only casual.  Neither of them really knows what is going on because they haven’t defined anything, but people begin to notice that they are close.  As the girl’s friends notice, they begin to ponder, so they ask, "Hey, so are you guys going out or what?"  The girl, let’s call her Keira (I just like the name) doesn't know how to respond so she says, "Oh, I don't know what we are… I mean we just…we have like.... we just have a.... a thing!?"

In this case, the word has been used as a substitute.  She didn't know what to call her relationship, so she just said ‘thing’.  Now, if I haven’t lost you yet, here’s where it gets really confusing.  The main issue now is; the definition is corrupt.  People began to say “thing” as a means of defining a relationship so often that an entirely new definition evolved. There is no longer a way to know exactly what they are talking about!  Do you mean that you are going out as a "pair" who are in a relationship?   Or do you mean that you don't know what is going on between you? How is there a way to know!?  I could try and explain it to a friend, but I would say the word ‘thing’ so many times that it wouldn't even sound like a word anymore.  

If I, personally, ever say “yeah I guess we have a thing,” I mean that I have no idea what to call it.  My friend, however, might think that I mean ‘we are getting together but we aren't exclusive we don’t really know where it is going or what we want to get out of it but for the moment we are both happy and we both understand that we are allowed to get with other people but we probably shouldn't because it would make the other person upset’. Ah. Deep breath.

In my opinion, ‘thing’ has too many definitions.  It can be an object, personal belongings, an adjective, matter, a subject, an area of interest or knowledge, an event, a substitute for a noun, a romantic relationship, a way to describe falling for someone, a place, a happening, a group, groups of groups, a group of belongings, a group of places, a group of names, or even a 'thing' itself.  Dear lord, now even I’m getting confused… 

Which is why I propose to you: the addition of a new word, one that could be used instead of the word “thing”.  One that only describes an unknown relationship, so that Keira could tell her friends that she wasn't sure what she had with the guy she liked - using only one simple word.

This means that we need a word to go with the definition:
 “A word used to describe a relationship when you don’t really know what is going on between the parties involved.”

Any ideas? I’ll chuck you some of mine; let me know what you think!  (Hint: Try to imagine using the word in a sentence).

1. Flimby (derived from the TV show ‘Friends’, Flimby is a word Phoebe uses when she can’t remember the real thing)
2. Stuff
3. Tie
4. Gadget
5. Phenomenon
6. Fixation
7. Feature
8. Stunt
9. Quirk
10. Knack
     
   


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