Saturday, January 27th, 2018
Battered By Superlatives
This could be a funny topic and maybe it will be, but I think I’m serious. We are being abused by superlative words. They are shouting at us, beating at the door, and pounding, pounding, pounding on our psyche.. They are relentless, constant, and pervasive.
Most importantly they are not true!
People talk about the love of their life (second or third love of their life) on Facebook like it is a billboard for the “love of life” award. (Privately, not so much.)
Our teeth can be “whiter than white”, our skin can be “flawless”, our life can be stupendously perfect. We must all be the best we can be. (All the time?)
Our businesses must be world class. What world? What class? Once in a business strategy session we were talking about the “passion for excellence” and I said sarcastically, “I kind of have a passion for taking it easy—a passion for “good enough”. The group burst into laughter that just would not stop. Wave after wave of laughter every time we went back to business talk. When we finally got back to work, it was real and grounded, not lost is the superlative cloud of nonsense.
Here is the problem. These false superlatives dilute the effectiveness of words when we need the strength later.. We need to keep words strong and true for the right moments. We have become numb to strong words that are used too casually and often. Trump and his Korean nemesis have used words that don’t upset us enough because we view them as bombast.
We are literally being battered by our superlative words.I think of our poor immune systems reacting to all the emotionally dramatic words that are thrown at us daily. Fight or flight? Fight or flight? All day long. Do we need a silence break? A drama break? A break from always striving for the superlative that can’t be sustained?
What would modest look like? What would OK enough do for us? What would turning it down feel like? I’m talking about language and the false use of constant superlatives. And how it both activates us to live at the superlative level and numbs us out as we find living in the superlative impossible.
There. I’ve written a good blog about interesting ideas that might give a few people a little insight about how we are over using superlative words. NOT, I’ve written an excellent blog about earth shaking ideas that will change how every writer thinks about using superlative words.
The latter feels good (not great) but the former is true. Alot less adrenaline involved.
Let’s not be battered by over use of superlative words. We need our superlative words. We need to keep them strong and high impact. We need superlative words for creating peace, helping out in natural tragedies, stopping killing in schools and igniting action when it is truly needed. Not for skin cream.