We have all seen it. It is now all the rage to begin any commentary with the word “so.” Whether it be by a Facebook user or a talk-show interviewer, you must start with “so” if you want to be relevant.
What is the actual purpose of the word “so?” It is just a little unassuming connecting word that makes it clear that the following comment is related to the preceding comment by the same speaker. Usually, it represents a conclusion resulting from a foundational premise. So, what previous phrase or thought is being connected when your Facebook “friend” says:
“So Jayden wouldn’t eat his peas until Mee-Maw soaked them in yummy butter.”
(Forgive the use of multiple distracting retch-worthy verbal devices in that example when I am supposed to be focused on “so.”) You skim back to the user’s previous post (if you are borderline suicidal) and see that it has a picture of a flag and some Starbucks whipped beverage and has nothing to do with Jayden or his food eccentricities.
Well, what is the purpose of the word “so” under these circumstances? It is to show self-centered arrogance. That what I have to say is what matters. I am undergoing a continuing life dialogue, so I am always ignoring you and everyone else—or at least I have perceived that is fashionable to act like I am doing so—and I am always painting the picture that I am reaching back to my last comments in the ongoing “saga of me” to let you know that’s what really matters.
What if you are listening to your favorite podcast and the interviewer asks a question on a new topic. The interviewee then launches into his answer with, “So….”
What is the point in that? The point is, that I don’t really care about you or your question, or at least I want to give that impression, but I am continuing with whatever I wanted to say because my “so” connects me back to me and I can at least pretend that my “so” makes my speech unresponsive to your questions, requests, desires, etc. It is pure narcissism. And it is the display of narcissism as an admirable trait. I am the best. I am so full of self-confidence that I look down on you and your petty interloping thoughts or statements that are intruding into my world. I am always referring back to me and the ongoing narrative of my life and my philosophy.
Even if the speaker is actually responding to another person, the preliminary “so” in his response is designed to give the Hollywood wanna-be the ability to project that the two-person thread of commentary should all be emanating from him, all about him, and all referring back to him; making it clear that the intervening question or comment was, in essence, invisible, non-existent, or immaterial to the discussion. It is an active affront, an intended erasure of the statements of others. It is not merely a failure to acknowledge the ongoing actions of other people.
And what’s wrong with that? Doesn’t the free market revolve around people serving their own interests? Well, the way you serve your own interests is by serving the interests of your fellow man. Denigrating your fellow man doesn’t get you clients in the market. It doesn’t increase your audience on the speaking circuit. Building up others and serving others is what makes you stand out in business or in life. Going straight to the fountain of arrogant piggishness by saying “I am the center of the universe” is not how entrepreneurs, moms, dads, students, or anyone else gets ahead. If they want to succeed, they look for what others want or need and provide it to them. Do others feel joy when juvenile arrogance is sprayed in their direction? Not likely.