This is not a blog about a majestic, awe-inspiring, terrifyingly-beautiful, worship-worthy peak in Nepal.
This is a blog about how you think you are majestic, awe-inspiring, terrifyingly-beautiful, and worship-worthy. And how you want me to think so too.
There has been a recent linguistic swing towards exaggerated superlative speech. The best, the worst, the happiest, the saddest, the richest, and the poorest have infiltrated our conversations to replace the moderation provided by good and bad. As a cultural example, look no further than Buzzfeed. With articles titled 21 People Who Had a Worse Christmas than you, 26 Times Old People Were the Best People on the Internet in 2015, A Son Gave His Mom The BEST Surprise for Christmas, and even a non-Buzzfeed article entitled 8 Buzzfeed Lists That Prove Buzzfeed Is The Worst Thing Ever.
We loathe admitting that we have individually been seduced into these articles in the bored moments between homework assignments and business memos. Some of us aren’t ashamed at all, proudly sharing Buzzfeed on Facebook like candy to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. Either way, we read because the titles tug at our insatiable lust for the sensational.
First Baby Boomers then Generation X, next we entered the generational stage having been raised by Harry Potter’s battle with horcruxes and Frodo’s quest to Mt. Doom. Growing up in a time of acclaimed heroes and accursed villains has indoctrinated us in extravagance which has trickled into our self-perception.
We are entangled in the jargon of embellishments, exaggerations, and extremes. Trapped in a generation-created world of binaries, we no longer exist in a world of spectrums. We have confined ourselves to experiencing either the best day or the worst day. We either LOVE Star Wars or we DESPISE it. Neutrality has faded into myth and legend.
We have made ourselves exempt from the world of normal, average, okay, good, decent, regular, common, ordinary, acceptable, standard, and usual. As oil to water, our projection of personal grandeur refuses to merge with the watery reality of our actual circumstances.
Peter Kreeft—a philosophy professor at Boston College—at seventy-eight years old and having published over seventy-five books, describes the difference of human perception over time. “Ancient man was preoccupied with how to be good while modern man is preoccupied with how to be happy.”
In addendum, I would add that postmodern man is preoccupied with how to be epic.
We are addicts to magnificence and depravity. If we can’t be the best we will compete to be the worst. If we can’t start the morning with the best cup of coffee, we begin the day with the worst.
We’ve begun to believe our own lie that the only life worth living is that of extremes. Zero or one.
In hopes that 2016 is neither the best nor the worst year of my life, I enter January in pursuit of good.
Rebekah (’12) teaches English as a second language at Grand Rapids Community College. She does not drink coffee nor purchase Apple products.