Nothing Personal

Language is metaphor, the effort to express a concept or emotion through speech or the written word. Not only do the guttural explosions that attempt to represent our feelings often fail miserably to express the Truth beneath their exaltations, they may also serve as subconscious or conscious maskings of True feelings or ideas.  When language fails us–when we don’t know what to say about a difficult situation (let alone how to say it)–it may be convenient to resort to a façade of word or phrase that symbolizes the True feeling or thought.

Nothing Personal.  These two words belong in the same category as “I was only teasing,” or “I didn’t mean it,” and other so-called harmless euphemisms.  Individuals sometimes use such expressions under the guise of benign, good-natured humor, as a way to distance themselves from the harm they’re unleashed.

There’s always something more at work with people who make inappropriate comments–perhaps a subconscious hope that a “put down” will make them appear taller, smarter, or funnier.  Bullies do this.  When “friends” dismiss a harmful comment (“Just kidding.”), it is likely because they believe the verbal facade nullifies any negative effect.  It doesn’t.  The meaning behind the metaphor is clear, and so is the veiled attempt to treat the comment as insignificant.


About Ken Lutes

Ken Lutes brings his background in memoir and fiction writing to his work at the North Denver Tribune ( He enjoys interviewing his neighbors in Northwest Denver, where he has lived since 1999. After hours you will find him playing hot gypsy guitar with the Paris Swing Set band.
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4 Responses to Nothing Personal

  1. ilona fried says:

    Congrats on your post! I’m curious what inspired it. But a Buddhist would say, actually, Nothing is Personal. If someone is inconsiderate, it has everything to do with them and their issues; the person they are addressing is just a mirror. Granted, it’s hard to believe this in the moment that someone unleashes a stinging zinger, and it in no way justifies rude behavior. But we can also choose to distance ourselves from those with tendencies to speak before thinking.

  2. tqtyson says:

    Yay for blogging-Ken! I once worked with a group of horrible, passive aggressive women who used phrases like “nothing personal” and “no offense” like daggers. It took me a while to figure out that it was personal and I was offended.

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