Song #3 // Pinegrove, “Then Again” [Cardinal]

I’m no linguist, but can we just talk about the word just?

2016 marks the year just replaced whatnot as a trigger word that allows me to instantly judge others (because other times, you know, I just don’t.)

What is just, and why is it suddenly everywhere? “He’s just a complete jerk.” Or, “She’s just insane, ok, calling me a jerk.” And, “He said that? OK, I just, I just, I can’t even.”

Is it an amplifier, taking up space to allow lazy or vocabulary-challenged people to add emphasis where another word would be better and more accurate? Is just the new literally or absolutely?

Maybe it’s a filler, like, a way of pausing or hedging or downplaying or just, like using the word like not as a simile, but as a like, you know, verbal tic utilized in conversation to sound nonchalant or aloof, or just, you know, more real.

Just could be the grammatical LOL. Anyone in the know knows that LOL is used in txtspeak not necessarily as denoting laughing (let alone out loud!) but as a kind of space holder, a way of ending a thought in an informal, jovial way. And I should know, I study this kind of language for a living! LOL!

But just just in these ways doesn’t quite cover it. The way that bugs me, the way that most people seem to use it is as just <comma>, with the syntactical effect of an impregnated pause, but not that impregnated, not third trimester, just barely out of first trimester, like, “Can this post just, be over already?”

I know, like, we get it already. LOL.

Seriously, I’m literally sick to my stomach. LOL.

I haven’t sat long enough with this band yet, but all signs point to “YES!” This song in particular bleeds youth and summer the way a cold lemonade sweats on a July afternoon. It’s sincere enough to be believable, but sneer enough to be a noun used as a verb, kinda like a noun adjunct or adjective gerund or whatnot.