Obviously

I hate the word ‘obviously’.

The word has sat in my echo chamber in my head, and I have thought about the concept and why it bothers me so much.

People use that word to shorten the amount of time they have to talk. It is a shortcut that makes you jump ahead when there is a discussion about a project, task, or objective. If I say something is obvious, then do not go any further.  There is a bit of power that comes with that.

When I use it I am either being very impatient – “The trash is obviously in the trash can” or insecure “The data is obviously in the data set called DATA”.  I don’t feel right about it for a few seconds either; it comes in anger or contempt, and neither emotion leaves me open to listening. “Obviously” is perfect for when I feel like I am in know-it-all mode or very fragile. Both examples I used above make discussion difficult to stay where it is, but being stuck in a place where we cannot explore something pays a cost.Both don’t leave any room for thought.

My anger for the usage of the word ‘obviously’  comes from my feeling that it ultimately makes every conversation longer. Not in the current moment, but each conversation afterwards you have to pay an ‘obviously’ tax. If it was something obvious, then I should know it. I can’t ask questions because it is so ‘obvious’ then if I don’t belong here if I don’t know it. It puts people, subconsciously, in a place where they can’t learn. When it happens to me, I get angry at myself for not knowing what is going on, and then the fear of not fitting keeps me emotionally stuck.

The word takes us away from an opportunity to learn. If you don’t learn, you die.