Is that true?


Just this week, I have had the great fortune of adding another pet peeve to my master list of peeves, a list that seems to be ever-growing by the day.  The top peeves, of course, are matters of grammar.  You all, faithful blog followers, know that I cannot stand text lingo (wat up wit u lol); just as you know I have come close to completely melting down over the use of fake words like ‘good’er’ and ‘funner.’  And we all remember that post long ago and far away on Art is of Words when I had the equivalent of a digital aneurysm over the new trend in putting spaces between an exclamatory sentence and its exclamation point(s) (OMG I am sooooo excited !!!).

But I have other pet peeves besides grammar and punctuation.  The grocery store lady is one of them; another, still, is when people take too long to return a text message, or worse – ignore it.  But some of these are lower on the list, because yes, lovely readers, I do prioritize my list by just how annoying the particular peeve in question is.  Well, I have added a new one and it’s a doozy, so it’ll be ranking pretty high up there with the exclamations and the OMGs.

At dinner a few nights ago, I was confronted with a situation that I realized I have been confronted with quite a few times in the past, without realizing it of course.  We were at dinner with a group of my husband’s family and friends, and every time I said something, one person in particular felt that it was necessary to verify what I said with either my husband or someone else in their “circle.”  I said something about the Internet, and this person said to my husband “is that true?”  I said something about a mutual friend we all had, and this person said to one of the other friends “is that true?”  I think it happened three times during the course of the evening that night, and upon thinking about it more realized that I am second-guessed to death every single time we are around this person in particular.

This made me think for a while – am I seen as a liar?  Do people see me as not a trustworthy source of information, even over mundane things?  Were other people being second-guessed as well?  I felt so second-guessed after this particular dinner that I began to second-guess myself, so asked around.  To my surprise (and relief), I found that a lot of my friends encounter people like this – people that have to verify everything that you say in front of you with someone they trust more, even on the most minor of issues.  An old high school friend of mine told me she has a co-worker that is constantly second-guessing everyone in the office; one of my friends even said that he broke up with a girlfriend of eight months because the girl’s dad did it so often.  So what’s the deal?

After even further second-guessing, I realized that I could not – for the life of me – figure out why people do this.  Why they have to “is that true?” someone they may have known for years, decades even, is completely unreasonable to me.  Not only does it just not make sense, because generally you associate with people you believe and trust, but it is just so rude.  Second-guessing someone you consider more than just an acquaintance – be it a co-worker, friend, or relative – is like turning to a nurse and asking if the doctor is right in saying you have bronchitis.  It’s illogical, rude, inconsiderate, and really says more than it is probably even intended to.  But then, I can’t figure it out.  Is it that these people have trust issues?  Or is it more deeply rooted, sort of like a subconscious need to establish just whose side you are on, even for information?

As with most questions I ask myself, I still have no answer for this one.  Perhaps that is why it ranks so high up on my master list of pet peeves:  the very fact that it happens is bad enough, but not knowing why is enough to make that funky blue vein pop out of my forehead.  To that person that always, inevitably, does this – the person at my family and friend dinner, the person at my friend’s office, my friend’s ex-girlfriend’s dad, and all you other second-guessers out there – we have all updated our lists accordingly.  And let me tell you, once you’ve reached the status of an entry on the pet peeve list, you hear about it.

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2 Comments on “Is that true?

  1. I can see your point on the ‘adding to a conversation;’ although, in an epistemological sense I think unlikely (at least in the specific incidence I was referring). But then, who am I to say what is really going on inside another person’s mind? Then again, it might be much more tolerable to me if only I thought of it as some inner quest for truth in everyone that does it; I might have more hope for the intellectualism of our culture.

    Regarding your pet peeve, I know exactly what you are talking about and it irks me as well. Although I cannot tell if it is an attempt to place an emphasis, or really just another error in the way we use our language. I am appalled, sometimes, by the linguistics of American culture, particularly the way in which we thrive on cliches like “fail” and “I know, right?” How quickly a perfectly legitimate word like “epic” lost its value as soon as every other person referred to every other thing as it, whether it truly was epic or not.

  2. As much as I enjoy a good pet peeve, I’m compelled to defend people who commit this one. Mainly because I know I’ve done it myself. Sometimes it can be a gracious way of involving other people in the conversation. Like, if a wife tells a story that gets a big laugh, it’s often fun to turn to the husband and say, “Is that true?” You usually get a completely different story, the Roshomon Effect, that doubles the enjoyment and shines a light on their relationship. Maybe you can think of someone who does this as someone who’s struggling with epistemology… “What is truth?”

    My pet peeve of the week is “is, is.” What I mean is, is that, more and more, I’m hearing people (especially talking heads on TV) double-up on “is” to give it some weird kind of emphasis. And as much as I enjoy having signs of intelligent life in the White House finally, I have to admit Obama is the prime offender. That makes me wonder if it isn’t another example of thinking too deeply. I think there’s some profound syntactical-logic thing going on, packaging up one statement and then pointing to it and saying “this statement is true,” as if the speaker is pondering the fact that existence exists.

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