Back when I was a card carrying member of the counter-culture, we used to use the expression “Right on” to indicate agreement with a particular philosophical or political position:
We need to get out of Vietnam!
Now, it seems that expression has morphed into meaning something like “that’s cool”:
We went to the beach today.
Is this really the same expression that has morphed over time or did it arise independently to have this other meaning? I’m always taken aback when someone says “Right on” to me over the most banal of topics.
Hmmm … counterculture card … err, did my 2S student deferment count? … ah yes, I’ll give you some countercultural papers … how about these Zig Zag wheat straws?
Anyhow, it seems to me that the phrase was never freighted with all that much philisophical significance. More often than not, it was used with joking alterations, often paired with “far out” - “far on and right out”, “right arm and farm out”, etc.
I’m a current counter-culture (if there is such a thing anymore) hanger-outer, and it’s still used both ways. A really appreciated suggestion or diatribe will be met with a hearty “Right on!” OTOH, a suggestion to start dinner might be met with a mid-level, “right on.” In the first case, it’s synonomous with “Amen!”, in the second, “okay.”
There’s one friend of mine, however, who uses it to mean, “If I agree with you now, will you stop talking so I can say something much funnier/wiser/more profound?”
“Wow, I saw the most amazing thing outside on the street!”
“Right on. Did I tell you about the book I’m working on?”
Makes me want to kill him. On second thought, I guess “friend” is overstating our relationship.