Ban “Interesting”

Let’s ban the word “interesting” (at least for a while). Think about it for a moment. When was the last time you used the word when it actually[1. Let’s ban “actually” next.] meant something?

“What did you think about the incident management presentation?”
“Oh, it was interesting.”

Does that tell you anything? It’s a cop-out answer, a filler word that doesn’t really[2. Then we’ll ban “really” after “actually”.] say much of anything. It attempts to convey the sense that you liked something, but we use it so flippantly and so readily that it ends up saying next to nothing.

Interesting has become un-Interesting

Dear old Merriam tells us that “interesting” can mean “holding the attention or provoking interest”, but I like this definition, that includes the word curiosity, much more:

in-ter-uh-sting, -truh-sting, -tuh-res-ting ]
engaging or exciting and holding the attention or curiosity
an interesting book

Engaging: now that’s a word that means something. What image does it conjure up for you? It makes me think of two gears, one operating on another, one engaging the other. The one moves and the other is engaged, perhaps at the same speed, perhaps at a slower or faster rate, perhaps forward or backward, but engaged and moving.

Exciting is another good word (if a little ambiguous and somewhat overused). I think of atoms, electrons being stirred up and changing state. Electricity is a good image when thinking of exciting.

But curiosity is the one that really enhances the meaning.

Aren’t you curious?

The Curiosity rover has been exploring the surface of Mars since Aug. 6, 2012

When was the last time you were curious about something? When do you last remember getting drawn into something, so eager to learn about it that your curiosity made you so engrossed that you forgot all about what was happening around you? When last were you that curious? What was it about that something that caused you to stop and lose track of time and location; what was it that drew you in?

Think about it for a bit and when you’ve got a solid answer, go and seek out more of whatever that was. Because whatever drew and kept your attention in that way, well that was truly interesting.

Just[3. Another word to ban, not in the “justice” sense, but in the “simply” or “only” sense.] Only don’t call it interesting.

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