I was in my favorite coffee shop the other day, ordering breakfast. When I told my server I would like wheat toast, he smiled and said, "Awesome."
This gave me pause. The word sounded familiar. I realized I had been hearing it a lot lately. In a popular clothing store, I was standing next to a teenage girl picking out a blouse. "Mom, isn't this just awesome?" I had to turn and look at the awesome blouse. It was plain white with a few butterflies. Where was the awesomeness?
This over-inflated use of words seems to be everywhere. I received a notice in the mail from the Los Angeles Times. The message was titled, "Be A Classroom Hero." It went on to say that if I purchased a year's subscription to the newspaper for a local school, I would be a hero.
I thought heroes rescued people from burning automobiles, or cured cancer. But a newspaper subscription? Such over-inflated use of languages weakens the true meaning of a word. If we call newspaper subscribers "heroes," what does that say of Jonas Salk and Doctors Without Borders? If we call wheat toast awesome, what does this to do our praise of God and sunsets?
Back to the coffee shop: I know my waiter rather well because I go there frequently. He is a cute guy with a sweet smile, and the only adjective he knows is "awesome." So I joked with him and said I would leave him a big tip if he learned a new word. I went in the next day and ordered a cheese burrito. He grinned proudly and said, "Super!"