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  • Writer's pictureJG .

Literally Figuratively


Have you noticed lately that the word “literally” has slowly morphed to mean “figuratively”, like when someone says, “I literally died laughing.” They did not actually die. They were speaking figuratively, but they used the word “literally”. This is not merely a common grammatical mix-up that has somehow become adopted into our language like “affected” and “effected” or “then” and “than”. This seemingly innocuous substitution is representative of how our collective mindsets have changed; we are now living in a figurative world, and this figurative world has become our new reality. The literal, the authentic no longer matters. The figurative is the only thing that is important these days. No one is interested in the facts, no one is interested in the truth, we are only interested in the narrative and the spin which only alleges a certain version of the truth.

Like literally and figuratively, the word “truth” has replaced the word “opinion”. The expression “speak my truth” has become mainstream. “Speaking my truth” makes no sense because if what the person is actually speaking is the truth, then the truth is universal, it’s for everyone, and not exclusively theirs. The truth would not be the truth if there were more than one version of the truth. There is no such thing as “my truth” which is separate from somebody else’s truth. If two people have two separate versions of the truth, they both can’t be considered the truth. “Their truth” is merely their perspective, their point of view, their opinion, but it is not “their truth”. That doesn’t exist. It is self-contradictory. But many people in our society believe that they have their “own truth”. And when they say, “my truth”, they are making the statement that what they are saying cannot be challenged or contradicted; you must accept it, or you are wrong.

Entrenching yourself into a position by saying “my truth” means that you will not listen or even consider another person’s point of view, which means “your truth” prevents you from discovering the actual truth because the best way of discovering the actual truth is to look at the thing in question from as many different points of view as possible, which those who believe they have “their own truth” never need to do.

Believing that your perspective, your opinion is truth empowers you to believe that you are supernatural to the point that your mere words are reality, all you have to do is speak, and your will will be done. You are no longer constrained by the reality of the world because you create your own reality. You no longer have to conform to the world; the world conforms to you. You have become figuratively, like God. We can change reality by wishing it, thinking it, speaking it. As the bible says, “In the beginning was the word” and God spoke the Universe into existence.

And we believe we can speak our own universe into existence. We are not constrained to a commonly accepted reality. If we say something is so, it becomes so. Our physical bodies no longer determine our sex, our feelings and our words do. Our literal sex means nothing, only our figurative sex does. The sex in our imagination, our feelings determine our real sex. It doesn’t matter if a man has a penis and XY chromosomes, if he feels like a woman and says he’s a woman, then he is a woman. Superficiality has become determinative. When a man puts on a dress, in our woke culture, he suddenly becomes a woman. What’s underneath, the reality of his physical body is negated by the thin veneer of clothing he has adorned. Chromosomes, hormones and genitalia no longer determine a person’s sex as they have for millions of years.

One person’s personal perspective and opinion on specific circumstances many times determine another person’s reality. A mother’s personal feelings about her unborn baby determines whether her unborn baby is a human being or not. Her feelings supersede the physical reality of the baby itself. If the mother doesn’t want her unborn baby, then the baby is not a human being and she can legally kill it, but if she wants her unborn baby, then it is a human being and it becomes murder if someone else kills it. The physical reality, the humanity of the baby has not changed, only the mother’s beliefs have. So, a ten-week-old unborn baby is either deemed human or not human, not based on the baby’s physical body or development, but based solely on the mother’s feelings.

An individual’s words or actions no longer determine who that person is, other people’s feelings do. If someone perceives that another person is a racist, even if that perception is based on their own prejudices, then that person is a racist. This is the origin of the charge of “micro-aggressions”; intent no longer matters. If a person is offended by something someone else said or did, regardless of what that person’s intent was, it is automatically deemed offensive and racist. The offended’s interpretation, their view of the truth supersedes all else. What they infer about what the other person did or said becomes the reality. Not only are they able to look into another person’s heart and see what their intent was, but they can override the other person as to what their intent was. Diminishing intent as a mitigating factor becomes very dangerous because intent is an important part of our criminal justice system. First-degree murder is treated as a much more heinous crime than third-degree murder because the intent was different. So, if someone can dictate what your intent is by their feelings, suddenly everything that you say or do can be painted in the most nefarious light.

This is how we get to people making conflicting statements like ‘words are violence’ and also ‘silence is violence’. They can project onto another’s words or silence, their own feelings. Words or silence are not violence. Words are words; silence is silence; and violence is violence. The figurative is not the literal. But no one cares what the literal reality is anymore. They only care what the appearance of the reality means. A riot is either a “peaceful protest” or an “armed insurrection” based on each person’s individual truth.

Those who work in Washington, DC understand this as much as anyone because they are all about crafting a separate reality, so no one sees what they are actually doing. We are told our southern border is as secure as it has ever been as two million illegal immigrants pour across it. We are told that a $700 billion dollar spending boondoggle is an “Inflation Reduction bill”. We are told that legislation which spends only 7% of its money on infrastructure is an “Infrastructure Bill”. We are told that a bill which makes it easier to cheat in elections is a “Voter Rights Bill”. Reality no longer matters. It’s all spin. If you put the right name on a bill, then suddenly the bill becomes that name when in reality the bill does the exact opposite of its name. And everyone acts as if this is all true. As George Constanza said, “it is not a lie, if you believe it’s true.”

We are living in Seinfeld’s bizarro world where everything opposite. We are living in a world that is outside of reality, that whatever somebody wishes to be true, becomes the accepted truth. We are becoming less and less connected to the real world, the physical world. It is all make-believe. It is all about the narrative. But this is what you get when most of our human interaction takes place primarily through a screen, through images. The confluence of millions of multi-colored pixels on a screen becomes reality. The more and more we view the world through a screen, the more disconnected we have become from reality, the more we divorce ourselves from the literal world, and accept the figurative world we are shown as our real world.

Social media has created an entire separate and artificial world which is producing a generation of neurotics. Anyone on social media who still clings to reality ends up comparing their insides to other people’s outsides; they compare their reality to other’s superficiality, and their reality cannot compete. So, in order to maintain sanity in the social media world, we must create our own separate reality which is not representative of the truth. And that artificial world comes to define us much more than the real world.

We see this in movies and video games which explore the concept of the “multiverse” where everyone can have their own universe that they create and live in. They can determine their own reality by choosing one of a multitude of universes that fits them. This is also the appeal of drugs for many people. Drugs gives people the ability to live in their own separate world. The good feelings and happiness that they experience from drugs is artificially produced, and not connected to reality, but they don’t care because feelings and perception supplant reality, until one day the reality crashes down on them.

But this is the world in which we live, everything is figurative, everything is superficial. The image, the façade, is not only more important than reality, it is reality. That is what Joe Biden was doing last week in Philadelphia. He wasn’t speaking the truth, he wasn’t addressing reality, he was crafting an image of his opponent, turning Donald Trump and his supporters into fascists. His assertions were not based on facts or evidence or concrete examples, they were based on his feelings, his words, the images he created, his “own truth”.

The left continually tells us that Donald Trump is a fascist, that he is Hitler, but they never produce any evidence to support their claim. They simply make the claim, and in their world, that becomes the reality. That is their truth. That is the truth that they need to justify their existence, to validate who they are, but it is not the truth because they never prove it. They don’t need to because they are living inside “their truth”, and their truth does not need to be proven, does not need evidence, because “their truth” is just accepted by them because it coincides with their feelings.

When you live in a world where the figurative is the literal, hyperbole is suddenly accepted as measured. Politicians have always tried to demonize their opponents but rarely is the over-the-top vilification ever believed. But today, there are Democrats who actually believe that Donald Trump is not only a fascist, but one of the worst people to ever live. Prominent author and intellectual, Sam Harris, recently said, “Donald Trump is a worse person than Osama bin Laden.” He did not say that metaphorically or hyperbolically, he actually meant it and tried to defend it. Harris said that his statement was “not meant to be hyperbolic. I can defend every word of a statement like that.” That statement is only defensible if he is living in his own world, in his own reality, in his “own truth”.

Our opinions have become truth to us. And this is the foundation of our problems today. There is no room for another opinion, another perspective, another point of view when your opinion is truth. We are so embedded in our own echo chambers that our voice is the only truth we hear, the only truth we believe. When in reality, we learn much more truth from listening to others than from hearing the sound of our own voice. We are being taught it is best to create our own reality. But that is the exact opposite of the way the world works. We cannot construct the world to fit ourselves, we must make ourselves fit into the constraints of the real world, but we can only do that when we live in the literal, and not the figurative.


Judd Garrett is a graduate from Princeton University, and a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He has been a contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.

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Judd Garrett is a former NFL player, coach and executive. He is a frequent contributer to the website Real Clear Politics, and has recently published his first novel, No Wind

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