Mar 28, 2024


I have often wondered about “right?,” the verbal tic many of us use (including me!) as filler, buffer, connective tissue in our speech. Jordan Castro is unsparing in his diagnostics:

My least favorite professor, who boasted during our first class about never having read Dostoevsky, assaulted us with “right?” like no other. It was as if he wasn’t communicating with us, but rather performing his tyrannical neurosis for himself. He said: “hegemonic, right?” and “Walter Benjamin, right?” and “racialized—right?—capitalism” and “as a white cishet male, right?” and twitched like a child who had to pee but was trying to prove something by holding it.


If you’ve ever found yourself in a classroom or listening to a talk, while some stammerer keeps interjecting “right?” into their empty-headed argument, you may have found yourself wondering: Why does this narrow-eyed, tight-lipped bug need me to confirm every third word that I agree with him? Or perhaps, when you’ve encountered it, your cortisol spiked and, in a pre-language state, you simply experienced the assault as an embodied tedium—shoulders tensing, ears ringing. If this is the case, you aren’t alone. The agreeable “good students” are unable to grasp that “right?” is less a question than a thinly veiled threat, but those who still seek real education may be able to sense this truth in their annoyance and impotent rage. Here, the entire artifice of academia is exposed for what it is: incuriosity and consensus-forming disguised as a question, meant to manipulate, like wizardry.