The logical conundra presented by some modern sayings (sounds fancy, ne?)

There’s one group of them that really gets me: “get a life”, or the similar “I need to get a life”.

Obviously this isn’t said about/to actual corpses, because that would be plain weird. But if not life/death kind of life, what do people actually mean when they say this?

Well, since it’s sometimes used to express a kind of freaked-out feeling when a friend is found to be utterly obsessed with something meaningless, or weirdly deluded about one particular thing, one could conclude that it means “a balanced, less crazy lifestyle”. Which is a fair enough thing to wish for for a friend.

And since it’s also used to express concern at a friend’s workaholic or antisocial/hermetic tendencies, this would seem to support that definition,


Who gets to decide what’s a healthy lifestyle? What’s a balanced lifestyle? Modern culture really hasn’t given me any clues on that one. I mean, I’ve had comments as to how happy/ content/ “sorted” a person I seem to be, on the same day as comments on my apparently appalling lack of a life. So evidently most people don’t have any kind of absolute to measure by. Maybe there’s some golden goal that people try to approximate to, of having a balanced, social, mental, spiritual, physical and financial dynamic; of being far enough away from every extreme as to not be diagnosable with anything (bar mediocrity).

…But people don’t want to be mediocre. We want to be happy.

So maybe that’s it. We want happiness for ourselves, and for our friends and family. As a culture on the whole we’re not entirely sure how to achieve this, but that’s what we’re getting at when we say “get a life”.


2 thoughts on “The logical conundra presented by some modern sayings (sounds fancy, ne?)

  1. Yes I would say it is the ‘happy’ idea. But. Sometimes you are quite happy and people think your life is lame.
    So only tell people to get a life when it is either a joke, or you are genuinely concerned for them. Not when you think something they do is ‘weird’ just because every single person on this planet is different and therefore you won’t all like the same thing. Let them live their life, if they are happy doing what they are doing and you know it isn’t damaging them, then leave them alone!

    I am okay haha 🙂

  2. I definitely agree with your problem with “weird” as a reason…since weird is either judged subjectively (i.e. by what any particular person holds as weird), or by societal norms (which I’ve never seen anyone really following anyway), judging behaviour as weird is hardly the most scientific exercise.
    A word of caution about the “it doesn’t hurt anyone so it’s alright” mindset though: it’s easy to use that logic to dismiss a lot of human behaviour that has the potential to hurt someone, even if it hasn’t yet, or to hurt someone really long-term.

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