"Hey, it's just my 2 cents." An expression we (myself included) use to justify our opinions, it's what we interject when contributing something to a conversation that we fear might be criticized or disagreed with.
Picture it: You're standing around the office water cooler talking with a few co-workers about the latest reality show or the boss's latest ridiculous request, or you're at a bar watching a baseball game with your friends, and you decide to voice an opinion. As the words are leaving your lips, it suddenly occurs to you that your opinion might NOT be a popular one, so you quickly add: "Well, that's just my 2 cents". Your hope, as you utter that low-budget phrase, is that it will take the edge off in the event someone else happens to be offended by your point of view.
Google "my 2 cents" and you'll get over 5.1 MILLION entries. Everyone uses this expression from time to time, at least in the English-speaking world (I have no idea -- does this expression translate?) A little research more, and I discovered that the expression comes from POKER of all things, as in "Put your two cents in" when players ante up to start the game. As Wikipedia states: "By deprecating the opinion to follow -- suggesting its value is only two cents, a very small amount", the speaker tries to less any negative impact of the statement to follow.
But WHY do we feel compelled to add our "2 cents" to the conversation in the first place? I'm not talking about vocalizing your actual opinion; I mean, why use that idiom at all? Are our opinions worth so little? It's like we don't feel worthy to speak an original thought or a contradictory viewpoint. We're so afraid of not being considered humble or polite that we have to take that extra step on the off-chance someone else will think us rude, idiotic, or even worse, an arrogant know-it-all.
Personally, I think we should stop apologizing for our opinions, whether we are in the habit of qualifying them with two lowly pennies or not. After all, we're entitled to think whatever we think and to say it out loud if we so choose -- especially in America. (At least that was true the last time I checked... but if the Bush administration has it's way, even THAT won't last much longer. See? I voiced an opinion and didn't feel compelled to add any spare change.)
Simply stating a viewpoint should never require any kind of apology. If someone else decides to be offended by a differing opinion, that's THEIR choice; we are never responsible for how someone else chooses to feel. The problem is, we think we ARE responsible for other people's feelings -- hence our compulsion to put our two cents in.
Of course, if you see me using that old cliché in the future, don't call me on it. "Two cents" is something I sometimes say or write habitually as "filler", even when I'm not feeling at all apologetic.
But when I become a famous writer, watch out! I'll be raising my "rates"... and be putting in my "Million Bucks" instead.