I’ve made it my life’s work (well, passion project I guess you’d say) to silently mock people that use terms like “right on” in ernest. Whenever the phrase is uttered I shudder with joy and silent superiority and a knowing grin that says “right on” right back to you, but really means, “saying ‘right on’ sucks.” I’ve been thinking more recently with my advancing age that maybe, just maybe, I’m a bit off-base on this whole phrase-hatred. Really, it’s a nice, well-intentioned thing to say and a throwback to the 1960’s when everyone just did drugs with flowers in their hair, and smushed each other in giants piles of smelly, hairy, unprotected ecstasy – and what’s wrong with harkening back to this simpler time with this simple saying?
Since the 1990’s, in my experience, the phrase is generally used to thank you for handing them a beer or any other menial party favor, or, even worse, it’s used to AGREE with something, unlike it’s original intent, which was just to say something different than, “far out.”
“I think Nixon was our greatest living President.”
“Right on man, but wasn’t he, like, a dick or something?”
“Right on, I thought so.”
See, it’s ridiculous. But since having a kid, I’ve softened a bit, and realized that maybe my opinions on the subject matter are off-base. Maybe my contempt is simply masking my jealousy or insecurities about language and the freedom some have to use it as they please, frankly, because it’s a pretty far out saying. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve railed against things like “FREE HUGS” signs and I will never stop until all of those signs have been destroyed and the sign waivers are behind bars, and I still strongly believe I’m right on that one. But… I just responded to a text with “right on” – and it was totally involuntary and I didn’t feel gross about it at all. Maybe I’m getting soft, or maybe, just maybe, its not such a bad phrase after all.