I'm the first to admit that there are better things to rage about in the world today. But I find it difficult not to get agitated when people are asked by the British media to respond to an interviewer's point, or to say what they think about what has just been said, and they reply: 'Absolutely!'
What can this exclamation possibly mean? Do they completely agree with everything that has been said, with no reservations? Do they think that anything further could only shine a light upon the pinnacle of knowledge already revealed? Or is the word just usefully long, with all of four syllables, enabling a slow-witted respondent time to gather his or her thoughts? Probably they do not think we should disregard whether something is positive or negative, and simply pay attention to its absolute value.
In the good old days, the best stock answer to a media question was: 'There may be something in what you say'. That was of inestimable value. It allowed the respondent to (perhaps) sort of agree and please the interviewer. But it also gave the impression that other things were going on that had not been considered. After all, the world is a complicated place.
Such is the dissolution of critical culture today that this absolutely fad has absolutely taken flight, absolutely. Idiots ask idiots questions and get idiotic answers. That has been true for a long time, but the shameless revelation of this truth is now becoming an embarrassment.
What can a responsible citizen do?
I would recommend that you pay no attention to anything anyone says in a media interview after they have uttered the word 'absolutely'. More than this, disregard anything they have ever said or written. They need to be taught a lesson, and I fear that this may not be confined to the UK media.
Tony Norfield, 14 October 2014