Not Awesome

Howdy, Pardners…

I think that we need to reevaluate our use of the word “awesome”.  It has become so overused that it has become meaningless.  When everything is awesome, nothing is awesome.  When I hear someone describe something as awesome, what I hear is “not terrible”.

I bring this up, because in theater world, one is left empty handed when attempting to find honest feedback.  Of course, since theater is essentially ten pounds of ego stuffed into a five pound sack, honest feedback can trigger some massive meltdowns.  So it’s sometimes tough to be critiqued as anything less than awesome….

“How was the show?”

“Awesome!”

“How was the set?”

“Awesome!”

“How were the costumes?”

“Awesome!”

“How was the acting?”

“Awesome!”

“How was the lighting?”

“Awesome!”

You get the picture.  Everything was awe-inspiring and spiritually moving.  That’s horseshit, of course, but theater isn’t the only place you find the overuse of the word awesome to be irksome.  For younger folks, everything just a bit out of the ordinary is awesome.  I get that.  It’s an experiential thing.  If you’ve never experience anything so amazing that it fundamentally changed your life, then “awesome” fits just about any novel experience.  But by the time you get into your late thirties, you should start setting some sort of experiential bar that dissuades you from overuse of the word.

I have a pretty high bar…. My first sex was awesome.  Well, not the sex itself, but that moment just before… two kids standing there… buck-naked… staring at each other… and knowing what was about to happen.  As young and stupid as I was, there was this microsecond of time when I said to myself, “This is awesome”.  And it was.  The actual sex?  Not terrible.  But that microsecond of time was awe-inspiring, and it fundamentally changed how I viewed the world.  Not everyone had the luxury of that moment, because most first sex stories involve wrestling and pulling of clothes in the dark (and probably a little alcohol).  I had the opportunity to see what was going to happen.  Awesome.

And you know what?  I don’t even remember her name.  Ah, the aging mind is a fragile thing.

So next time someone tells you that something was “awesome!”, ask them a question…  “Did this thing fundamentally change your view of the world?”

And if you catch yourself using the word, ask yourself if there might be a more honest and useful word for what you’re trying to describe…  exciting, fun, interesting, scary, beautiful?  There are lots of words.  Learn a few.  It will help you, and it will help others.

Yeah, uh…that would be awesome.

Have a day.

Riley

primum vivere, deinde philosophari.

 

 

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