Quite a few folks liked the post, and a couple made some funny additions. “You won’t believe how breathtakingly annoyed I am by this,” wrote Paul Baker, and Jason Eversole commented, “This was the most epic post ever.” It appears that I’m not the only one incredibly stupefied.
Unfortunately, this tendency goes beyond the “clickbait” of Facebook. Hyperbole seems to permeate American culture. Consider:
So many athletes are considered “world class” and so many cars and tech gadgets are “state of the art” that they all might as well be considered, you know, just normal and ordinary. People are called heroes just for doing what they are paid to do, or because they managed to survive a bad situation.
We are awash in “Top 10,” “Top 50” and “Best of” lists. There are so many that, again, they have become meaningless. So you live in one of the Top 50 cities for retirees, or go to one of the Best Small Colleges for Math Majors? So what?
Armageddon and the Apocalypse are invoked for events that are decidedly not grand, violent or Biblical. Oh weather people, are you listening?
Exclamation points, once used sparingly except by dreamy 13-year-old girls and people warning of the Apocalypse, seem to be used more often than periods these days.
Journalists and copy editors used to be taught to be wary of superlatives and claims of “first” or “original.” Exclamation points, except in the case of a direct quote,” were expunged. This is apparently not the case in what passes for journalism online. Or maybe I should say it this way: There has been an epic fail.
Do we really need to be so ramped up? Have we become that blasé? Can’t a child simply get good grades instead of being an A-1 honor student? Should I scorn a perfectly nice beach just because it’s not one of the World’s Top Beaches? I understand that we need to take all marketing copy with a grain of salt, but this has gotten a bit out of hand.
When I taught, I tried to combat grade inflation by reminding my students that “C” means average. No wonder I lost that battle … no one wants to be average, or good enough, or normal anymore. Why not? You can live a happy life without having an exceptional one … in fact, not being exceptional might just be the key to being happier. The way I see it, peace comes in being able to say, “Enough.” I am pretty enough, rich enough, comfortable enough, good enough. So what if I’m not awesomely amazing?