The Usefulness of Meaninglessness

The Usefulness of Meaninglessness

When was the last time someone recommended something to you? Think about it: on an average day, how often do you hear someone say these are good, you gotta check them out, or even those are the best? The most interesting question, however, is: to what extent are you aware of the power of word of mouth?

I will tell you what happened to me today. I had to pay a visit to the DMV. Like you, I always love to do these kinds of errands – and just like you, I especially adore the Department of Motor Vehicles. I have nothing better to do than spend half of my day in an overcrowded waiting room in order to get my five minutes with a clerk.

While I was sitting there, waiting for the calling number on the display to magically jump from 351 to 384, I couldn’t help to overhear one of the clerks talking to her girlfriend who had brought her something to eat. She had got it at the restaurant across the street. She expressly and effusively reported to her friend behind the counter how wonderful her lunch had been, and what she had gotten her. One of the other clerks overheard the conversation as well and joined in. She asked her colleagues friend which restaurant she was talking about, and when she had confirmed it was the one, she nodded repeatedly and, being a wise, said Yes, they do their own cooking.

Excuse me please

No, I didn’t speak up. After all, I might encounter one of these ladies at #384. So I just thought to myself: What does she mean? The restaurant cooks their food by themselves. In contrast to what exactly? Ordering it at another restaurant? So while I was sitting there, smiling to myself, I gave it a thought.

Facts first

  1. What I described above takes place all over the world, all the time. People will always recommend things they claim to know about to other people. It makes us feel bigger. Admittedly, showing off knowledge gives us a kick.
  2. The majority of people will take every chance to promote something they think is valuable to their surroundings.
  3. The term valuable obtains different meanings for different people, with the two extremes being a) I only brag about things I am convinced of to maintain integrity and reliability, and b) I don’t care what I am bragging about, as long as it makes me look superior.