Let’s begin with a note on the title of this post.
As a general rule, I refuse to wag my finger at changes in the English language, even when they vex me alot.* Language is a living, shape-shifting thing — a cruel mistress, even. All the proof you need lies in that copy of Hamlet on your coffee table. But even as I am understanding, wise, and patient about language (and everything else), I swear, the bastardization of the word “literally” still kills me. Kills me dead, though of not literally, because to say “the bastardization of the word ‘literally’ literally kills me dead” would mean that what I see as the word’s misuse would cause me to cease to live. To me, still, “literally” means “exactly”, as in “What I’m saying is literally X is exactly what I mean, without nuance or metaphor.”
Fewer and fewer people mean “literally” the way it was used in the good ol’ days. I am losing this battle. I am not, incidentally, “loosing” this battle, which is a new threat to the current “verbiage”, which is, incidentally, the threat after that. I can’t talk about it.
Where was I? Oh, right: My recurring nightmare. When I say I literally have a recurring nightmare, I mean that I actually have had roughly the same nightmare multiple times and that I expect it shall continue to visit me in future sleep cycles.
My recurring nightmare is one in which I crack open my laptop to find I have been attacked by a computer virus, courtesy a ring of Russian hackers, who systematically take over my computer and drain my data as I watch. (My nightmare predates all the Russian stuff in the news, for the record, though all of our records are being eaten by robots as we speak, so does it matter?)
I had the nightmare again a few nights ago. What can it mean? Am I anxious? Scared about an upcoming meeting? Feeling pressure at work? Troubled by tuition costs? Crushed, perhaps, by the weight of my own existence and/or worn down by the agonizing tedium wrought by the everyday? Me? All those things, definitely? Nah.
Whatever it is, I wake up in a cold sweat. You got a nightmare that comes back and back? Maybe if we talk about it, it’ll go away.