I once bet a friend a few years back 50 bucks that I could mingle at a party and be sociable for 2 solid hours and still never utter more than two phrases – ‘right on’ and ‘no shit’ and nobody would take notice.
I won easily.
The expression ‘right on’ can be interpreted so many different ways that it’s become a catch-all phrase. Hell, I still use it today in ordinary conversation because of that. It can be used as approval, agreement, encouragement, permission and damned near anything else you want it to be. It’s kinda like nodding your head with words, you know what I mean?
“Hey, what do you think about this?”
“Do you want to go into town and buy some ammo?”
“So, do you think I did the right thing?”
“Hey, I’m a little short, can I borrow 50 bucks til payday?”
You get what I’m saying here, right? Sometimes you gotta work a little voice inflection/timbre (right on!) or even some facial expressions in to change the meaning but most of the time you don’t – I think about half the time I say it I’m just saying it to let the other people in the conversation know that I’m interested and not daydreaming about midgets or immoral women or worrying about possums and to keep the conversation going.
The other half of the time I’m using it is because I am thinking about midgets and immoral women and worrying about possums but it would be rude to tell the other party to just get to the fucking point and quit droning on and on. You can tell when I’m there by the flat monotone and frequency of the ‘right ons’ – the faster they come the less interested I am in what you got to say.
That pretty much goes for ‘no shit’ too but for situations where right on would not be appropriate such as “Fuck man, my mom died today”. ‘Right on’ would not be the appropriate response whereas you can get by and even encourage the bereaved to continue by a simple “No shit?”
The same thing applies in other situations – denial for instance as in “We found the marijuana under your seat, sir” or when your wife says “My sister thinks you’re hot”. “Right on” would not be the proper response to either of those statements.
The only other thing different between ‘right on’ and ‘no shit’ is that with ‘no shit’ you almost always have to use a semi incredulous tone and the matching facial expression to pull it off correctly.
But yeah, give it a shot sometime. Next time you’re someplace where a bunch of people are socializing and getting fucked up, interject yourself into a conversation between some other folks and see how long you can get by using just those two simple expressions.