If ever there was a word that I outright hated, it would probably be “amazing”. I never set out to discriminate against this particular word, it just kind of happened organically.
By definition from my friends at Google, it’s an adjective meaning “causing great surprise or wonder; astonishing”. Synonyms include astonishing (duh), astounding, surprising, stunning, staggering, shocking, startling, stupefying and breathtaking.
Sounds like a pretty powerful word, right?
Yes, until it’s used to death.
I’m hard pressed to go a day (and most times, ten minutes) without hearing this word used somewhere, in some form. Cooking shows on television use it repeatedly. Facebook is notorious for it, and I notice a fair amount of mentions on Twitter. To me, it’s like nails on a chalkboard.
Most of the things that are being described are simply not amazing. They might be cool, fun, or fill you with a sense of warmth and good cheer, but they just aren’t amazing.
Listen people, your new dog taking a giant crap in your backyard is not amazing. Disgusting, yes, but not anywhere close to breathtaking. Or maybe it is, when you think about having to clean it up. Likewise with that piece of chocolate cake that you just ate. Or in most circumstances, even your family.
Social media is great and all, but it provides people with a medium in which to hold an online pissing contest. We read about our neighbor’s month long cruise to some exotic locale and we suddenly feel the need to compete. When we find that our lives just don’t measure up, we embellish the facts until they no longer resemble the truth. Hence the posts about amazing spouses and amazing kids. Hey, my husband just took out the trash – this makes him amazing! My girls didn’t fight with each other for one whole day – they are so amazing!
And what used to be a meaningful word becomes nothing more than a catch phrase. People throw it around until it loses its luster and becomes a ghost of the intended definition.
Are we really that insecure in our lives that we feel the need to overcompensate? Do we think that by assigning this word to something mundane that we are making it better? Are we doing anything to address the real issue: that maybe we’re all struggling some days to find the good in life?
I get not airing your dirty laundry in public, at least not until you are good and ready. I understand putting on a brave face in the shadow of adversity. But whatever happened to just telling the truth? Most of us don’t have lives that are fit to post updates on at regular intervals. We are boring. So instead of letting others know that we’re human, we adopt plastic personalities and play along, continuing the one-upmanship.
Maybe if we focused on living our lives instead of telling others about them, we would be happier as a whole. It’s okay not to post a status when you don’t have anything to say. Most people won’t even notice.
So, my hope for 2014 is that we make it a little less amazing. In reality, I know that the damage has already been done and even if amazing becomes discontinued, some other word will take its place.
My personal favorite is stupefying. But, alas, I’d grow sick of that one, too.