For the first time in this blog’s long and chequered history, I am writing about something completely serious that affects me personally. If I had the opportunity to change one thing about the world, I would choose this (assuming that all the important stuff like wars and hunger and AIDS and that have already been fixed, which obviously they won’t have been). It is something with the potential to have a devastating effect on people – it’s ruined whole days of my life, and frankly that needs to stop.
The problem, if you haven’t read the title of this blog (fair enough), is that the whole world apart from me (apparently), is unable to use the word “next” correctly when referring to dates.
Let us try a quick thought experiment:
If I say that we are currently at 6, and ask you what the NEXT even number is (assume numbers are increasing), what is the answer?:
b) Absolutely anything else
If you answered “b)” then you are an idiot, or more likely a contrary dickhead who thinks it’s clever to not give a straight answer to something. Ok, I get it. Sometimes it’s good sport to take the opposite side of an argument, sometimes it’s even necessary to properly understand an issue. But this issue is totally black and white (because this is my blog and I say it is), so your smug little attempt at being better than me was always doomed to failure.
I was once asked a similar question amongst a group of students (pah!). We were given the terms “always/often/sometimes/rarely/never”, and asked to give each one a percentage to represent the frequency of an event happening. Ie: if I “sometimes” brush my teeth after breakfast, what percentage of days do I brush my teeth? One girl, whose name I forgot, answered “always” as 80%, and “never” as 20%. When it turned out that (obviously) everyone else had gone for the sensible answers to these, she got all proud of herself for standing out of the crowd and began trying to argue her case. The instructor told her to be quiet, and that she was wrong, and that was the end of the exercise. I am glad I don’t remember anything else about her.
Anyway, the point is that the word “next” is clearly defined. It’s almost impossible for me to explain it without using the word itself (and I’m fucked if I can be bothered looking up a proper definition) – that’s how well-defined it is. And yet, it sometimes seems as though the entire world got together and agreed (presumably while I was on holiday or something) that they would all accept and propagate the improper use of the word just to piss me off. Though experiment number 2:
Today is Monday 2nd September. According to the calendar, when is the next Thursday?
a) Thursday 5th September
b) You’re wrong, and I’m forgetting your name
So how come, when I agree to meet someone in the pub “next Thursday”, do you all seem to think that means Thursday 12th? That’s in 10 days’ time, and there is another Thursday in between then and now!
What the fuck is wrong with everyone?! This genuinely upsets me (not like cancer, but still, genuine anguish), because I seriously can’t adapt to it. I know how everyone else uses the word, but my brain won’t accept the override because the logic is so utterly plain to see that, I don’t know, it just feels like I’m pranking myself. It all serves to remind me that I will never properly fit in with the rest of the world, and that will forever be, metaphorically speaking, sitting in the pub alone, a week earlier than everyone else.
This has actually happened to me, by the way. I now insist on expressing the date of the meeting, or how many days there are between then and now to remove the confusion in the situation. People think I’m being “that guy”, I know, but I genuinely have to do it. Not because I love being a contrarian wanker, simply because my brain doesn’t seem to work like everyone else’s. I am actually really envious of all the people out there, who can say something that, objectively, makes no sense, and yet everyone else has some tacit understanding of what you meant, and can communicate with one another without making a fuss about it.
Well done you. Can we please have another meeting and change it back?