So What?


Stop it. All of you. Stop starting blog entries with the word "So". It adds precisely nothing to your post and just looks ridiculous. Especially when it's the fourth or fifth introductory "So" I've seen in the past twenty minutes of blog reading.

I don't know where people picked up this casual over-use of the word "so," but I suspect it's somehow related to the popularization of the use of "so" as a verb modifier ("I am so going to the store right now."), for which I blame Friends. First, "so" showed up as a cutesy, meaningless emphasizer in mundane sentences, and the next thing you know it's the obligatory introduction of 90% of the nation's blog entries. It doesn't have to be. Stop it.

What I really think is going on here is that people are trying to blog like they talk. In conversation, people often start out with the word "So" in order to indicate to their listeners that what they're about to say may be vaguely interesting, but not important. For example, consider the differences in hearing the following two statements.

"So I saw The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants this weekend."
"I saw The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants this weekend."

If you heard option one, you'd think to yourself, "This person is just talking to me because they feel like talking to me, which is fine, because I like this person, and it doesn't really matter what we're talking about because we're friends. We'll talk about The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants for a while, then maybe talk about something else, and maybe we'll make out later. Not in a gay way, but whatever happens happens."

But if you heard the latter option, you'd think to yourself, "Oh my God, this person really wants to tell me about The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. She said it with such force and purpose that this movie must be the sine qua non of our present conversation, and she wouldn't be talking to me if she hadn't seen The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants this weekend."

That's all well and good. It makes sense in conversation. If you're just hanging out with someone, you don't want to make it seem like anything is particularly important, because the experience of visiting with someone is more important than what you actually talk about. But blogs are different. Blog entries are published material. You read a blog. You don't need to be disarmed by a de-emphasizing "So" at the beginning of the blog entry. You can draw your own conclusions as to how interesting the post is. When I see the word "So" at the beginning of a blog entry, I think to myself, "This person is just blogging because they're bored. Whatever they have to say must not be very interesting to them, so why the hell should I be interested absent the benefit of direct, interpersonal interaction? Screw this, I'm looking at porn."

So please. For the love of Blod. Save your keyboard the wear and tear of those three useless keystrokes and leave out the word "So." Or use it only for its intended purposes: to emphasize an adjective or adverb (not a fucking verb, you Friends-quoting roustabouts), or as an indicator of causality. For example:

Correct: Matt is so handsome.
Also Correct: Matt writes so well.
Incorrect: Matt is so going to pass the bar.
Lame: So I saw The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants this weekend.
Acceptable: I have terrible taste in movies, so I saw The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants this weekend.


so's my dick.

Well, you might as well call out the offending bloggers by name, instead of making me wade through a month of my own posts to see if you mean me. I guess you don't. I also checked Lydia's, Kenny's, Cynth's, Ryan's, and Tom's. Only Kenny tested positive. Maybe this blog post wasn't meant for me?

I don't mind the "so." I like it, actually. There's a warm aura of nonprickery to it. Blogs are published, but they are also personal.

And you know, for whatever reason, Kenny's so-laden blog is the one I look forward to reading the most. I don't know if he's just a better writer, or if he writes about more interesting things. Maybe it's the warmth of his so that gets me out of bed in the morning. What I'm trying to say is that, as a way of saying thank you to Kenny, I will be employing many a post-initial so in the future. And thank you, Matt, for bringing this previously unnoticed courtesy to my attention.

I am guilty of using "So" in my last to posts so now I have to go back and change them. Hrmpf!*

*sound used to denote grumpy resolution to bear the challenges heeped upon me.

Of course, I didn't mean to imply that the introductory "so" decreases the overall value of the blog. Often the substantive posts end up being good, it's just that the "so" is kind of a squirt in the eye.

See recent corrections here

Ooh, great rant. I think the heinous Friends thing and the heinous "So..." sentence opener are grammatically two different things, and I think the "So..." sentence opener has a longer history.

The Friends-inspired so is actually an intensifier that's being used as an adverb. You know, like "bloody well." Compare: Matt is bloody well going to pass the bar. Matt is so going to pass the bar. Same, except that the "so" one is so much more grating and stupid-sounding.

The "So" as sentence opener is different. It's actually functioning like a "whereas," establishing a premise. It puts me in mind of the titles of the "helpful" pamphlets you get in high school: "So you fucked up and got pregnant," or "So you've decided to take fourteen units of metal shop." It's kind of like it's saying, "Whereas you got yourself knocked up, therefore this pamphlet is going to tell you in three pages exactly how much trouble you're in." The "so" in peoples' posts and conversations does the same thing. "Whereas I saw Herbie: Fully Loaded this weekend, therefore you are now going to hear a point-for-point recap of the plot." But it's sneaky, because although it's establishing a premise, it's pretending that it's giving you a conclusion. ("So" should be doing the work of "therefore," which is exactly what it does in your last example: "[Whereas] I have terrible taste in movies, so [therefore] I saw The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants this weekend.") It creates the illusion of conversational continuity so that it seems like the statement is coming out of something that was previously being discussed and not like a total non-sequitur.

It's also hedgy and elaborately casual. I think people should just jump in and say what they're going to say, without winding up. So you saw Herbie: Fully Loaded. So now I know you have a Lindsey Lohan thing. Therefore, I admire your balls for telling me out loud.

I never thought about it or did it on purpose. It does look like I went on a bit of a "so" streak last week, on literally every other post (at least no consecutive posts, though). I believe I did it in an effort to create the impression that we're already midcoversation and here is something I'm going to bring up. In many cases, it's to suggest a sequence of events that's already in progress ("So I told my mom about my blog..." "So I'm printing out a document...").

I don't think using "so" is bad, but I won't defend the lameness of using the same construction to open several different posts over a short period of time. I think the real problem here is overuse. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

And aww, thank you Zack. I like your blog best, too. Our blogs should go steady.

Katie, funny you should use that example. I've seen Herbie: Fully Loaded twice. But you jump to conclusions. You neglect the possibility that I have a Herbie thing. But I didn't start my post about it with "So." So that's good. And it's LindSAY, thank you kindly.

This wasn't an anti-Kenny rant by any means. There are other offenders, they just apparently don't fall within the watchful eye of Zack. Though I admit that seeing to "so"s in one day on Kenny's blog stoked the coals.

Up next: Matt's incoherent rant about why people need to fucking cool it with the Comic Book Guy references already.

Worst Up-Next Ever

So I'm sitting here cringing about the Lohan misspelling. Kenny, it never occurred to me that one might have a Herbie thing, but now that you point it out, it seems much more plausible.

so, I'm like so totally not going to stop.

And while, I'm much less often guilty of starting an entry with "so" rather than a new paragraph, I'm sure I've done it enough. You have it right, I blog the way I talk. And until I decide to not do that, that's the way it's gonna be. It's not really a choice, it's a result of watching too much 80's TV.

Matt, you can't critique blogs for their style. Although there are plenty of proffessional blogs out there, for most people, blogs are just that, a log up on the web. People just want to share their personal thoughts and very often it can become a stream of consciousness sort of thing. You can't tell people to not do this and not do that and grammer rule number 434 this. You'll end up with a lot of bloggers second guessing what they can and cannot do in their own personal space. I believe in maximum creativity when it comes to this sort of thing so I'll gladly bear through a cliche or two to see that happen. The worse thing that could happen would be some sort of ...brrr... Chicago Manual of Style for Blogging.

And let me premptively defend my Comic-book guy Reference on my blog. I used the title becuase I thought it fit. I honestly don't use Simpsons references that often (well at least not as much as some fanboys).

So in summary maximum creative freedom, good, stifling of it in any form, eat my shorts.

So, what your point?

A Resolution: So, to annoy the shit out of Katie and Matt;
So, I hardly post as it is;
So, they don't read my goddamn weblog regardless, even the few times I may post;
Be it resolved that for at least the next month:
I will begin any weblog post I make with an inappropriate "Whereas" which will be read as a conversational "So, ".

Yes, I'm a "so-er." I started my most current non-recipe post with it. I'm going to blame our high school, Kenny, since we both seem to do it. (I doubt Matt was targeting my blog. We've only met once, and I doubt he reads it.) I don't think I'm going to stop, although I will try and cut down. I like to write in a conversational style, and truthfully, most of the time my conversation sucks.

I have already self-criticized my overuse of the word "so" (at least a year ago). Thus, I have license to continue using it because I am now "aware."

My only remaining inexcusable vice is my overuse of the words "stuff" and "really great!"

Now that THAT's taken care of, I can continue on my way and remind myself how much i never learned Contracts.

Unless I missed it, how about the use of the word "so" to END a sentence? Example; "We went to Sea World this weekend... so....". Typically, this "so" is delivered with a slight shrug of the shoulders, the same shrug as to say "oh well".

I recently attended a training class in which the instructor used the word "so" NO LESS than one time per minute, on average. She sounded completely at a loss of any formal communication skills, as do most of the people in mainstream society. This is most certainly a failure in the schools our tax dollars are funding.

While on this rant.. "not so much"? Where did THAT come from??

I'm actual guilty of the punctuative "so." I feel like an idiot every time I do it. I did it in front of a client last summer. Bad news.

Other Blogs

Law-Type Blogs

Other Webcomics

Log Archives

eXTReMe Tracker

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by hb published on July 6, 2005 12:57 PM.

Striving to Put Right What Once Went Wrong was the previous entry in this blog.

I've Been Living a Lie is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Powered by Movable Type 5.04