I absolutely hate it when I hear people say, “Been there, done that.” There are so many things to dislike about the expression… and here’s why I suggest you remove it from your vocabulary:
While the phrase, “Been there, done that” is an expression used to signal that one has been in a similar situation before, it is (more frequently than not) used to say that whatever the other person is saying or experiencing is nothing new to you. In other words, it’s kind of a back-handed way of saying that you don’t care.
As a travel writer, I hear this all the time. I’ll post a photo or a story from my travels in some location around the world (or I’ll share something that one of my friends or students has accomplished) and some
idiot person will come along and say, “Been there, done that.”
This person, I realize, is just trying to make themselves feel better… or boast about their own accomplishments. But when someone shares something with you and you say, “Been there, done that” you are basically telling the person that “This isn’t interesting or important to me. I don’t care. Let’s skip this topic.” Or “I already know this.” It’s just a rude way of ending the conversation.
Blowing someone off with a “Been there, done that” statement isn’t just downright rude, it’s a statement that says a lot about you. If, for example, I post a photo from my travels and you respond by saying, “Been there, done that,” you’re actually telling me a number of different things about who you are and how you think about the world:
- You’ve been to the same place I have. Fantastic!
- Instead of asking me about my experience, you talk about yourself. You don’t care enough about me to express interest in something I am obviously interested in, passionate about, or involved with.
- You’re telling me you think that just because you’ve been in a similar situation, that you somehow know it all; that my experiences are exactly like your own; and that there is nothing more to learn or add to the conversation.
- When you say, “Been there, done that” (especially in a travel context), it demonstrates that you think of life (and travel) as some kind of one-dimensional checklist that simply gets marked off as you go along.
While I do think it’s impolite to say, “Been there, done that” in almost any situation (because it’s a terribly rude conversation ender), I think it’s even more foolish to say such a thing because it tells the world in four short words that you think you know it all, when obviously, you do not!
What do you think? Am I right about this? Or wrong? How do you feel when you hear someone say, “Been there. Done that.” Is there ever a time when it’s appropriate to say such a thing? Leave a comment below and let me know what you have to say.
Photo by: Hobvias Sudoneighm