MOLLY SCHOEMANN: May I please request a moratorium on all uses of the word ‘amazing’ that are not sung and followed immediately by the word ‘grace’?
No more ‘amazing’ vacations. No more ‘amazing’ microwaveable burritos. No more “you guys are the most ‘amazing’ friends EVER!” (we’ll get to the superlatives another day). At least give it up for six months or so? Maybe after an extended absence, during which people are forced to come up with other words to describe things they like, the word ‘amazing’, when it comes back into use, will once again sound fresh and vibrant.
I mean, probably not. But maybe. Because at this point, ‘amazing’ is about as stale as the peeps you forgot about in the back of the pantry. It sounds cheap. It sounds lazy. It sounds as though you don’t feel like going through the mental exercises required to describe something in a specific and meaningful way, and so you pick the first word that pops into your head—and it’s likely to be one of the words you used recently, to describe something else amazing, like the soup you had for dinner last night, or the coffee you had this morning. Which does NOT really lead me to believe that whatever you say is amazing is really that amazing at all.
So let’s all try, for a while, to give up the word ‘amazing’? I think that would be really…neat.
AKIE BERMISS: Frankly, I amazed that Molly is so down on amazing. I think its an amazingly useful word. Like, when I am sitting at home watching television for a couple of hours and the same commercial comes on a few times — that’s amazing. And when I get up to go, finally, and I realize that I’m like an hour behind schedule — I’m, like, amazed that its so late! And when I can’t find my car keys and I have to tear the house apart — I’m amazed that I can’t find something that I literally*just* had in my hand last night. And when I find them, in my pants pocket the whole time (!), and finally get to my friend’s house and I relate the story of my frantic car-key search and how that made me late (omitting how it was television that made me late in the first place), he’ll be all like: “really?! that’s amazing!”
Ok, so I’m being a jerk. I kind of agree with Molly, I think people use amazing too much. But I don’t think a moratorium on the word is going to do the trick. There are already other “amazing” substitutes that are giving it a run for its money on a daily basis — my persona favorite being ‘insane’ (ie, “the keys were in your pocket the whole time? that’s insane!!!“). Instead, I think we need to examine just how far our collective command of language and verbal comprehension has fallen. Or, maybe, just need to cut back on trying to make our lives more exciting than they are. The scenario sardonically described in my first paragraph is not at all amazing. Watching too much television is, at best, pretty lame. Realizing it is really only disappointing. Maybe its shameful. Not being able to find your keys — that’s frustrating. Discovering that you bone-headedly had them the whole time? That’s stupid. But not amazing. Unless you’re amazed by your own stupidity — in which case, its still really just a case of you being amazingly stupid.
No, I think people should continue to use “amazing” but they should think about what it means. Look before you verbally leap, dear reader! When you coincidentally get on the same train car as the one co-worker whom you hate, but who lives down the block from you, is it really amazing? Are you stupefied with shock? Are you filled with wonder? Or are you just sort of… unhappily surprised.
I can tell you, I’d be happily surprised if people said what they actually meant a little more often. Then, perhaps, folks like myself who DO say what they mean won’t be perceived as negative just because they aren’t amazed by a sunny day, or a cute kitten, or finding a dollar on the ground, or a eating a good slice of pizza, or catastrophic weight-loss, or non-stick pans, or automatic doors.
et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. When something amazing actually happens, you’ll know — because you’ll feel it in your bones. Give birth to a baby or discover a grand unification theory for physics, or put an end to world hunger. That would be AMAZING.