I think skepticism has a lot in common with white blood cells: The proper amount guards against disease, but too much starts killing healthy tissue. And that’s where “meh” comes in. “Meh” is easy. “Meh” can be applied to anything. “Meh” tells me nothing. It’s dismissive without being insightful. This exchange tells me nothing:
“Hey, what did you think of [last night’s episode of 30 Rock / the new Jonathan Franzen novel / Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs]?”
Actually, no, it does say something. It says the person on the “meh” end of the exchange hasn’t engaged with the subject at all. “Meh” should be reserved for objects of absolute mediocrity, which are relatively rare in my experience. Why not take a moment to translate “meh” into “I didn’t think it was that great. I thought the main plot with Jack and Liz seemed a bit familiar, and the Tracy subplot felt forced, though I think Elizabeth Banks has been a nice addition.” It isn’t hard.
“I had understood myself for years as basically vertical, an odd forked stalk of stuff and blood. I felt denser now; I felt more solidly composed, now that I was horizontal. I was impossible to knock down.”
-DFW / IJ