Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, Nobody

Photo of Michelle DeAngelis by Laura DeAngelis

With the next five paragraphs I seek to prove that humanity insults people by focusing on their body rather than their intellect and self worth.

Everybody is a word that exists in a vacuum. Society very rarely uses the word “everybody” to describe, literally, the entirety of every body existent in the universe. Rather, we use “everybody” in a situational tense. Say one is regarding a presidential election, the “everybody” included in public opinion is every American citizen. The proverbial public isn’t all citizens of earth but rather citizens of the United States. Similarly, in a class one will often hear their teacher say “where is everybody today?” often followed by the witty comeback of a smart Alek attendee questioning why they aren’t considered part of “everybody”. The latter is a superficial example of how the word “everybody” can then turn to be a source of both generalization and ostracizing. See, it is not widely acknowledged that this word exists in a vacuum and most take it at literal face value. It is dangerous to lump together all of humanity with one sweeping word in discussion. There is no one thing that “everybody” has in common, therefore rendering this word practically null and void.

Somebody is a very specific word. It refers to one single person. Notably, society likes to classify “somebody” as a person of standing. American culture has created a notion of a proverbial “somebody” who either has some form of fame, riches, or skills that others admire. Our incredibly competitive culture teaches children at a young age that they want to “be somebody” when they’re older. Similar to the word “everybody”, is creates a dangerous stigma amongst society. “Somebody” can also be used in the opposite meaning, as if to refer to “just some guy”. “Somebody”, therefore, is both a way to put a person down, and raise them up. It is a dangerous dichotomy. Extremes are equally as incriminating and dangerous as sweeping statements, such as “everybody”.

Anybody is an extremely dismissive word. “Anybody” assumes a common skill or trait so basic that it is the lowest common denominator of society. It is used as of to say “anybody could do that” or “they could hire anybody for that job”. “Anybody” gives off a sensibility that assumes the personality or humanism of a person is irrelevant, and all that is needed of them is merely their presence and basic existence as a human being. For example, when one is desperate for a last minute person to assist them, one will often hear this person plea for help from “just anybody, please”. The use of the word “anybody” suggests that one is unimportant, or even disposable/replaceable, thereby again pointing out an acute danger in active use of the word “anybody”

Nobody is both obviously and distinctly a harsh word. Dishing out the insult of a person being “a nobody” is equally as insulting as it is complimentary to refer to a person as “a somebody”. While “nobody” can literally mean a simple void of humans (which is a very factual usage, difficult to find fault in), to call a person “nobody” is rude and insulting without the need of my own cynical analysis. To refer to a person as “nobody” is to say that they’re less than even those in the category of “anybody”. To refer to a person as “a nobody” is to say that they are so irrelevant, their presence populates a room as thoroughly as a room that literally had nobody in it. It is impossible to make the argument that it is at least better to be disliked than to be considered one of the “anybody”, because the word “nobody” suggests utter lack of recognition. To hate somebody is to acknowledge them vividly, to see them as “nobody” is to outright disregard them.

If you’ve stuck with me through this entire essay, you’ve probably noticed a theme of pessimism and anal fault finding in seemingly harmless English vernacular. I am not so radical as to suggest that these words ought to be eradicated from usage. I in fact recognize that many of these words are used both factually and clinically in various usages. My reasoning for taking such a profound stance in the majority of this essay is to point out the fact that the commonality in all of these words that look down upon humanity is that they include “body”. I propose that this is because they emphasize a human as a “body” rather than as a mind or a spirit. To regard a person as just a body is an insult in itself, as the thing that makes humanity special is our first rate consciousness and intellect. To disregard this profound trait in a human is to disregard their existence altogether.

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