I always say never say never or always


There are few real impossibilities in life, just as there are few real absolutes. So why do so many people use “always” and “never”?

The words tend to show up most of the time when someone wants to put emphasis on a statement, such as,

“I never drink and drive.” and “I always root for the underdog.”

There are darn few times these words can be used truthfully. Oh sure, there are some exceptions, such as in the first example, a person who doesn’t drink alcohol can technically get away with the statement, though even then, it’s not accurate (the correct phrase would be, “I never drink alcohol and drive”).

There are also some times where they are used improperly and properly in the same manner:

“I never imagined I would win the lottery” (false)

“I never imagined my neighbor would commit murder” (true, hopefully)

There are times when it’s mainly to signify a near absolute:

“I never drive over the speed limit” (except for rare exceptions)

“I always lock my front door when I leave” (except for those times when I forgot)

The problem I have with those two words is that I can find so few times I can use them, practically, in a sentence. Of course, I can say, “I’ve never been to the moon”, but that hardly has any practical value. And those instances, focusing on a specific place or activity, are not so much absolutes as they are situations that I haven’t had the opportunity or inclination to experience.

At least they’re not true paradoxes, such as the famous “The next statement is a lie…I lied about the last statement.” That’s a true and false at the same time, an absolute of a different sort.

No, I don’t view always and never in the same incontrovertible sense. I just prefer to be more precise in my language and more respectful of real absolutes in the world.

I always make sure I never use those words casually. It’s safer to simply always never use them at all.

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