Remember when “awe” was, well, awesome? Not anymore:
Matched up against all the torrent and cascade of moments though, this genuine awe was rare; it was one of the pearls beyond price, the shining instant of “Ah ha, so that’s what it’s all about.”
Not so today. Today awe is as common as clay. Today all things of man possesses the awe of someness. The movie is awesome. The SmartCar is awesome. The candy bar is awesome. The cheeseburger is awesome. Today it would seem that every slice of tripe spun out of the crap factories of pop culture is awesome even though one note of the 9th Symphony would crush the entire oeuvre of Aerosmith. My morning latte was described by the barista as “awesome” when, like all our cornucopia of crapulous things described as such, it was quite mediocre, thank you.
I wonder if this was a byproduct of lowered expectations: if everything is mediocre or worse, yet we need something to extol, it seems almost inevitable that we’d experience some sort of word inflation of this sort.