your genius is so amazingly brilliant

Posted: May 1, 2012 in Observations and Commentary
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

You know what’s happened, don’t you? We snatched the exclusive world of superlatives, recklessly threw it into the combustible core of the web, and watched it blow apart in a way that would have made Robert Oppenheimer proud.

As willing participants in this weird alternate universe called the Blogosphere you can’t help but notice the epidemic of exceptional praise for unexceptional performance. (To be fair it extends far beyond our little bloggy neighborhoods.) This misuse of language reaches its nasty tentacles everywhere, much like a cockroach intrusion. You only need to see one to know thousands of similar vermin scurry about unseen. The notion of using appropriate praise at the appropriate time has blasted right past the exceedingly pervasive into the exceedingly perverse. This cultural phenomenon strode into town, staked a claim on Main Street and proceeded to smack common sense upside the head, sending it sprawling like an old man whose cane was violently snatched away. It is everywhere. If you participate at all in the glut which oozes from every corner of the web, either as a contributor or an observer, you can’t escape it.

And it’s so easy to perpetuate, isn’t it? Our obsession to be part of the conversation, quite often with sincere intentions, has cheapened the language. If a person does something mildly clever they are lavished with a flurry of effusive absolutes that would make Alexander Fleming blush. He never got the kind of praise you regularly see on the web. And he invented penicillin. Although I suppose thinking about penicillin isn’t as freaking awesome as watching some skateboard dude execute an Aileron roll.

Read the comments wherever you surf the net. Without fail you will see words like “brilliant”, “genius”, “amazing”, “unbelievable”, and “astounding” tossed about like a baseball at Yankee Stadium. A guy in Ohio smashes an egg on his buddy’s head at a party then posts the video on YouTube. Amazing! Another guy regurgitates advice on his blog which was given to the first child by the first parent. Remarkable!  A woman makes a few pithy observations about stuff learned in 8th grade. Brilliant! Hey, I think double-checking your résumé for spelling errors before sending it out is a fine idea too. But instead of defaulting to an adjective used to describe the works of Mozart, shouldn’t we pause just for a second and consider using something more appropriate? Because when we use superlatives to describe everything they eventually end up meaning nothing.

  1. sparklebumps says:

    And here I thought you finally decided to write a post about me, since everyone seems to think I’m so great and shit. I’m glad you realize I’m not quite as awesome as everyone thinks.


  2. In the nasty world of insulting paparazzi and horrid headlines about has-beens and horrific performances, I’ll take the awesomely brilliant praise as a sign of the shifting universe being made possible by the Mayans and their 2012 doomsday prediction. How’s that for an all over the place comment. By the way – you’re a genius.


  3. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.


  4. whiteladyinthehood says:

    What? I thought we really were all brilliant…and amazing AND delightful.


  5. mysterycoach says:

    I think you missed your calling. You could be that guy who debunks things with a healthy dose of common sense. Genius 🙂 LOL !


  6. Interesting post. I’ve often felt the same way about the use of superlatives in comments. Of course, it could be that the commenters have a limited vocabulary or such an unfailing positive outlook on life that everything they encounter is awesome, like this post.


    • John says:

      Very measured, even-tempered response by a good, dare I say very good, blogger.

      By the way, the use of the word “interesting” is always…well, interesting…because it has so many possible interpretations. Therefore, let me restate and say this was a very measured, even-tempered response by an interesting blogger.


  7. kayjai says:

    I could say you’re freakin’ awesome, but my thinly veiled sarcasm would delight and amaze you into thinking I didn’t mean it. Wait…what? So, all I’ll say is ‘yep’.


  8. Jay Schwartz says:

    “Awesome” post! Please acknowledge my pathetic existence by leaving a comment to my comment … that’s really what it’s all about.


  9. Vivian Bedoya says:

    Awesome, dude! No, seriously.


  10. Folly & the Wrong Men says:

    Yes, but saying something like “I think this post is total shit!” is so much more fun and has so much more UMPF then something more precise like, “yeah I can see what you’re trying to say but I think it’s more complicated then that.”


  11. Imelda says:

    This reminds me of a scene from The Incredibles –
    “Mother: Everybody is special.
    Dash : Which means nobody is.” or something like that.


  12. rangewriter says:

    Nothing, nothing, and more nothing! Seriously, I loved this sentence: “This cultural phenomenon strode into town, staked a claim on Main Street and proceeded to smack common sense upside the head, sending it sprawling like an old man whose cane was violently snatched away.”

    And there we have it: that concept of common sense again.


  13. surroundedbyimbeciles says:

    I am getting the urge to type fantas…nope, I won’t do it. No smart ass comments because you are right.


  14. These are brilliant observations, awesomelessly expressed by a blogging genius. That aside, yes, I agree. I cringe when I see some of the stuff people post on facebook, tired old words that sound like those “Inspiration A Day” calendars. And people fall all over themselves about how deep and amazing the words are.


  15. I’m afraid to comment…


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