The Internet is drowning in typographically monstrous quotations. This site is designed to remedy this ghastly situation and, in doing so, likely affect world peace. You’re welcome.
The Oxford dictionary defines platitude thus:
A remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful.
and Merriam-Webster more succinctly as, “a banal, trite, or stale remark.”
Many platitudes are harmless. Some are distillations of centuries of human experience. We often resort to them out of habit, as a fallback, knowing that their longevity lends them gravitas or unassailability. We turn to them especially in complex or difficult circumstances, in situations that make us uncomfortable or that bring us face to face with profound ethical or existential dilemmas, or simply because we are unable to think of anything better to say; or we fear that our attempts at originality will backfire and make us look stupid – or, even worse, offend those we wish to encourage or console.
We would do well, then, not to stand too tall on our high horses and remember that most platitudes are well-meaning. A friend who utters, “everything happens for a reason” in response to a tragedy is lost for words and the platitude is a stopgap employed until we are able to, if ever, come to terms with the event. I guess what we’re really wanting to say is that “surely, everything must happen for a reason.”
In addition to being, for the most part, somewhat tongue in cheek, from time to time I’ll post some tried and tested BS-detection tools; for example, you can often safely ignore whatever follows the expression, “people have said” or “people say” – that’s simply code for what follows is bullshit. At that point it is safe to turn your attention to something more important or urgent – like washing your hair or cleaning the grouting in the bathroom.
Image credit: Six Tuscan Poets by Giorgio Vasari, 1544