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Are you just saying that?

Or do you mean it?

After being asked for a fourth time in a row about whether I mean a compliment or not, I sat about thinking whether I did mean it, and decided to write about it. A very weird thing to do, you might think. And that is a fair assessment. Who would write a blog post about such an inane incident that has no repercussions. But I will disagree for the sake of writing this article: small things matter. Then again this is motivated more by own boredom than anything else.

Context: Art’s day in college. Or rather, the day before Arts day, with Fashion show and Group Dance being the two leading events. Whenever I see acquaintances or friends after their performance I offer them a compliment. To which they immediately respond, “Do you mean it? Or some variant. To which I insist I meant it. Only to a close friend did I feel comfortable enough to say “I’ll tell you later.”

The compliment I’m offering is in essence a social nicety, something you do cause the opposite could upset social relationships. The performer is standing in front of you and you probably can’t (and shouldn’t) pretend like you didn’t see them. They are most probably in their costume, drenched in sweat and visibly tired after their performance, Hours of effort and dedication have condensed to a few minutes, and they look at you expectantly. How could I possibly say anything but a compliment at that moment? I am not so heartless so as to say what I think. Doing so would be utterly cruel. Yet, I am inclined to think, are we not to say what we mean? Nonetheless, words do come cheap, do they not? What possible harm can a compliment cause? On the other hand, the more you compliment, more the value depreciates.

I want to think of the whole affair like this: I am complimenting to appreciate your effort and performance, and not necessarily acclaiming it one way or another.

All that being said, I would not in good conscience give a compliment to a terrible performance.


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