by Maisie Smith on August 14, 2014
I admit it. I am a recovering “limited vocabulary” addict. Out of the hundreds of thousands of words in the English language, I insisted upon using a particular one over and over again as a part of my everyday vernacular:
I used it to describe everything. Grandma’s coming to visit. “Awesome!” We found your favorite flavor of jelly beans at the store down the street. “Awesome!” Dinner will be 30 minutes late. “Awesome!”
I’d like to hold New Kids on the Block and Bop Magazine accountable for my dirty awesome habit. Can you blame an entire decade? If so, I’m looking at you, 1980s. You’re not so tough without your legwarmers.
What it really boils down to is this:
Society has become lazy.
So lazy that, out of the hundreds of thousands of exquisite words in the English language, we designate one word to describe… everything:
As a writer who has a daily love affair with my Thesaurus, I still find myself dropping an occasional A-bomb. Just this morning, someone told me, “I’ll get that to you later today.” And I responded back, “Awesome!” Ugh. Is it mind-blowingly phenomenal that a person will be getting back to me? Hardly.
I clenched my teeth right after saying it, laughed at myself for the slip and hopped back on the “let’s-start-using-original-and relevant-words” wagon.
Louis C.K. agrees. And I am shamelessly
stealing borrowing his comedic sagacity to make a point.
“AS HUMANS, WE WASTE THE SHIT OUT OF OUR WORDS. IT’S SAD. WE USE WORDS LIKE “AWESOME” AND “WONDERFUL” LIKE THEY’RE CANDY. IT WAS AWESOME. REALLY? IT INSPIRED AWE? IT WAS WONDERFUL? ARE YOU SERIOUS? IT WAS FULL OF WONDER? YOU USE THE WORD “AMAZING” TO DESCRIBE A GODDAMN SANDWICH AT WENDY’S. WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN ON YOUR WEDDING DAY, OR WHEN YOUR FIRST CHILD IS BORN? HOW WILL YOU DESCRIBE IT? YOU ALREADY WASTED “AMAZING” ON A FUCKING SANDWICH.”
Deep bows, Mr. C.K. You loosen the mind shackles like no other.
Let’s take a look at the actual definition of the world’s most famous default word.
“Awesome” is an appropriate word to describe:
sunsets, the Sistine Chapel, dinosaur bones, Bill Murray, the Grand Canyon, a newborn’s tiny fingernails and 93-year-old skydiving grandmothers
You know, stuff that truly blows our mind.
It should not be used to describe:
clever t-shirts, cereal, the most recent Godzilla movie, a dog on a skateboard, toenail polish or finding a quarter in the gumball machine.
Those things are good. Not awesome.
“Awesome” has lost its punch, its descriptive brilliance. It’s just another word that, sadly, holds little meaning.
We gloss over the word “awesome” like it’s last year’s prom dress–insignificant and musty.
Just a thought… maybe your new e-book/online course/service/thingamawhat isn’t awesome. This isn’t to say that it’s crap. It may be quite excellent. But does it induce awe? Is it stunning beyond words?
How else could you describe it? Is it:
Maybe your business is the fucking bee’s knees. Maybe it allows people to rock out in the mosh pit of life. Say that! It’s time to stop calling everything “awesome” and start giving your words value.
“Amazing,” I’m coming for you next.