A Bitter Point of Rage
The first phrase, and this has actually sneaked into the mainstream news once or twice happens to be: "It is what it is." If there is a more nebulous, jaw-droppingly drool-worthy phrase out there, I don't know of it. (Thankfully.) It is what it is is the vocal equivalent of throwing your hands in the air, shrugging your shoulders and saying, "I don't get it. I don't want to get it. To try and figure it out, let alone vocalize it is too much, so I will simply say 'it is what it is' and let you figure it out and argue it if you must." I have usually heard this phrase uttered when the topic at hand is negative or depressing in some way.
"Oh, that sucks that your mother died."
"It is what it is."
Weak and pathetic. People have so lost their ability to verbally express what is on their minds that they have resorted to saying the equivalent of "a car is a car" -- only with less detail.
(As a way of having fun with this, a friend told me the other week that he had to get some lab work done. I responded with a heartfelt, "Wow. That doesn't sound fun. You seem kind of upset about it. How serious is it?" His response was, "It is what it is, I guess." This struck me as odd, so I responded in kind with, "Oh, that's true. I hope you don't have an STD." Vague meet random. Shake and kiss.)
The other phrase is: "I'm just saying." This is often used as an apology for some opinion or fact that is thrown out there that someone may possibly disagree with. We have, as a society, become so weird about actually having opinions on anything, that an apology of some sort often seems necessary lest you offend some dolt. Trust me, I know you're "just saying" it. I just heard you say it. You don't have to apologize for voicing an opinion or stating a fact ... even if you think I would be uncomfortable with it. It's okay.
I've been guilty of the latter more than the former (with the shit I say, I often am offering an apology). Being fascinated with culture and language causes me to examine these things, though. Why we use what we use, and why things happen to catch on in a certain way. And once they do catch on, why do they go away at some point?
I believe that once you hear these phrases enough, you catch them like a cold, which in turns spreads them. Verbal viruses that hatch in the brain and spread whenever the mouth is opened.
Anyone have their own pet peeve phrases they'd like to throw out there? I know it's hard to stop saying them once you do, but at some point you have to lose the virus.