Platitude vs. Opinion

The 'Younger Memnon' statue of Ramesses II in ...

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Platitudes are the ultimate put downs.  You take a messy, wiggly, imperfect human, or human relationship and reduce them to a sentence. The sentence seems noble and feels grand.  Final and absolute, no other side, that is the nature of a platitude.

Of course we can voice opinions about the state of being.  Opinions, just because they are from humans, have a frailty that I respect.  They are full of holes, they are fungible and evolving.   But platitudes  have this absolute final and all-knowing tone to them.    It’s as if Ozymandias walks among us, the mortals, with the key to the truth.  Opinions have opposing sides, but platitudes, by their nature, do not allow for another side.

Platitudes  by their nature are trite, banal remarks, spoken as if they are original, or significant, say the dictionaries.    So, how do we express an opinion without falling in the realm of platitudinous?  It’s a fine line.

The self-help industry churned out some of our greatest modern-day platitudes:

  • Be true to yourself .
  • Be yourself.
  • Nothing succeeds like success.
  • Be all that you can be.
  • Death is part of life.
  • Love is the answer.
  • No pain no gain.

It’s as if these simple sentences are all that we need to live by.  Usually platitudes come in bundles of seven, or ten, like the commandments.

Platitudes are great conversation killers.  You cannot discuss a platitude.  Often times they do serve the purpose of ending a dull and bothersome conversation.  Proverbs, however, always seem to have a handy opposite: “Slow and steady wins the race”  vs.  “the early bird catches the worm”.  It’s rather difficult when one blogs an opinion and then encounters platitudes as commentary.  Rather difficult to argue with a platitude.

2 thoughts on “Platitude vs. Opinion

  1. I agree that platitudes are a good way to end a conversation. But they are most effective when used to start and end a conversation. This allows someone to both claim and hold the moral highground without debate. I hate that.

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