I was a literal child, and I am a literal adult.* When my Dove Promise wrapper tells me to build a bridge with chocolate, I immediately wonder what would happen on a hot day when the chocolate starts to melt. That’s the image that comes to mind even as my brain interprets the message correctly. And then my brain smacks me on the nose and says, “IT’S A METAPHORICAL BRIDGE.” It’s a sickness, and it happens to me several times a week.
- Read something.
- See literal image of the thing.
- Correctly interpret the metaphor.
- Smack for being idiotic.
It’s quick and all internal (usually), which saves me a lot of embarrassment, but it makes the widespread misuse of the word “literally” a real problem for me. I don’t have to argue the case against using “literally” when you mean “figuratively” here. I know you all agree with me. I don’t know if you always imagine whatever the figurative thing is as a literal thing when someone says something like, “My brain literally exploded.”
You probably do, right? I’m not alone in this? I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I’ll admit to other oddball tendencies, but this is a universal thing among the grammatically correct. Yes? Yes.
*In keeping with the theme, I can’t help but point out that yes, I literally was a child, and now I’m literally an adult. I’m itching to change that sentence.