Literally ...

One of my pet peeves is the mis-use of the word "literally" in conversation. It's proper meaning is "actually; without exaggeration or inaccuracy,as in the city was literally destroyed." However, its current usage equates it with "virtually" or "in effect" - a sloppy mistake that must be stopped at all costs.

Rob Lowe uses the confusion to comic effect in the TV sitcom "Parks and Recreation" - his character Chris Traeger uses the word "literally" as a modifier in almost every sentence ("My body is literally a finely-tuned machine"). However, I don't think most viewers get the joke, that his body is not ACTUALLY a machine. It's funny to most people just because of its repetitive use.

Over to the talking heads at MSNBC. Commentator Mika Brezinski was driven to rant in spectacular fashion the other day by Newt Gingrich's comment that the people at Occupy Wall Street should "get a job, right after you take a bath". Practically hyperventilating, she said:
I'm so disgusted by that that something horrible is going to come . . . I, I, am I alone here? Am I over-reacting? I'm sickened by that . . . It's fair to say he's in the 1%, correct? He's telling the 99% to take a bath and get a job? Really? Really, I wonder how they do that right now. How, given the state of this country, how anyone's going to just get a job and take a bath. Who is this man? Who does he think he is? And why is he surging in the polls? I don't get it. I mean,to hear Newt Gingrich standing on literally his high horse, after taking advantage of the system, cashing in, being the biggest, literally the biggest hypocrite in the Repubican field, probably in politics today. The biggest hypocrite. And then to cast aspersions and to speak down to these people as if--plghhh--they should be flipped away? It's disgusting. It's absolutely disgusting. It's a very angry way to start the show. I'm extremely sorry. But it's the first time I'd seen that. And it literally made my skin crawl. I can't believe he resonates.

I'm trying to picture Newt Gingrich, who's literally the biggest hypocrite, literally standing on a high horse, making Ms Brezinski's skin literally crawl. It actually makes me shudder.