I used the term perverse recently. I said it without really thinking. I felt like I had to check myself. So I looked it up and was a little surprised by what I read.
When I had to define it, I found that I was using the term incorrectly. For the word perverse, I would first think of pervert or some sexual deviant. Taking that word to describe the human mind, I would have thought that it’s being tweaked still in some way of thinking sexually about things. Like the guy who always used to say “that’s what she said” and think he was funny. I knew that the more general term was to describe something as off or wrong in some way but I thought of it as more sinister.
The word ” perverse” means: 1. Directed away from what is right or good; perverted. 2. Obstinately persisting in an error or fault; wrongly self-willed or stubborn. 3. Marked by a disposition to oppose and contradict. 4. Cranky; peevish.
When I looked at it more closely, #1 was the only one that holds a definition I recognized as right. Number 2 – Obstinately persisting in an error and wrongly self-willed, goes beyond what I would have thought for this definition. Not just that you’re wrong in your thinking, but that you stubbornly persist by nature or habit. That’s perverse. Cranky and peevish are like the candy coating of this definition. Another source calls it easily irritated or annoyed. So I could use cranky, irritated and perverse interchangeably? Perverse has more sting than irritated or annoyed.
How often in our day do we go on by force of habit and don’t really think about what we are doing or saying just like I did in the use of this term I didn’t fully understand? In my case it’s way more than I think and I like the idea of trying to think more closely about what, and maybe even more importantly why I do and say what I do and say.
Hang out with kids a little bit and you’ll hit some challenges that force you to answer their questions in a way they can understand. They force you to be real. They’ll say “I don’t get it” and look for another explanation where adults won’t say anything and just call you an idiot who makes no sense. Kids habits aren’t fully formed yet so they’re honest with themselves more often and comfortable with trying to understand things. Maybe that’s where their easy smiles come from.
With the ways we are communicating now being slashed for convenience, I think it’s easy to assume that more and more people don’t know what they think they know. Words we use regularly might not be the ones to best convey what we are really thinking.
Rather than dig in and learn we just obstinately persist in error and wonder why people don’t get us.
It’s healthy to be wrong.
It’s where learning has a chance to get in.
Words do have a defined meaning. To use a word properly means conveying that meaning by the use of that word.
That is right. No subjectivity. It’s right.
To use it in a way that is not in keeping with it’s definition means that you will be conveying a different meaning. You can persist in defending what you mean but you’re wrong.
I was wrongly self-willed by definition.
It’s especially on display when we’re emotional or in an argument.
What do you mean by what you are saying?
Are you thinking about it? Are you sure?
I wasn’t and I thought I was.