How is “A Thing” even a thing?

As someone who gets told to use more nouns in her sentences, I get that the word thing is a handy shorthand. (Ex: “Can you pass me the thing that’s on top of the you know, next to that other thing?”)

But how does our use of “A Thing” to describe parts of the world around us actually help us understand that world. I wouldn’t go this far:

Use of “a thing” [could be] a symptom of an entire generation’s linguistic sloth, general inarticulateness and penchant for cutesy, empty, half-ironic formulations

But I get the point, specificity helps. Because there’s just so many things.

Information besieges us in waves that thrash us against the shore until we retreat to the solid ground of work or sleep or exercise or actual human interaction, only to wade cautiously back into our smartphones.

So it does help with All. The. Things.

We talk about a thing because we are engaged in cataloging. The question is whether something counts as a thing.



*wades back onto smartphone*