An Arrogant Request

November 19, 2013

I didn’t like it when I first noticed, but now this meaningless garbage is forcing its way into my news feeds, app descriptions, and junk emails. And some of the offending parties are bloggers I deeply respect.

But I have to ask: if you’re writing stuff, can you please stop it with the superlatives and find another word for crafting?

I would like to reserve terms like awe, amazement, and delight for things that actually elicit awe, amazement, and delight. If I experience these things, I would like to describe them without having to make up new words or explain how I felt an actual sense of the commonly-misused superlative.

Your new software feature, if you really think about it, probably falls short of amazing. I dearly hope that it’s not insane, because that doesn’t even seem like a good thing. That doesn’t mean it can’t be impressive, useful, time-saving, or even exciting or groundbreaking. The moon landing was amazing. The first iPhone was amazing. Olympic athletes are amazing. The grand canyon or a space shuttle launch are arguably awesome. Can your 20% off sale really keep up with these things?

And I think it’s great that you’ve dropped "built from the ground up" and jumped onto the "crafted" bandwagon. I’ll admit, it sounds great – some worker is always turning the sausage crank, but by using a single word you give me the impression of the beautiful hipster craftsperson, sipping coffee in the golden morning sunlight, smiling upon his/her creation that’s been carefully and lovingly refined to perfection. It’s a huge steaming load of craft. Take a moment and consider some language that doesn’t parrot everyone else’s. Language is fun, and some of us prefer substance to fleeting style.

I’ll admit that the overuse of "craft" is merely a personal annoyance, but the abuse of superlatives seems characteristic of our collective situation: we’re in the middle of a competition for clicks and comments, desperately grasping to shock, scare, oversell, or do whatever’s needed for just an ounce of attention. Complex, fascinating situations are turned into oversimplified battles between good and evil, mediocrity is elevated to greatness, headlines bait rather than inform, and everything seems to turn into an endless stream of noise.

I think we can do better. Let’s start by choosing words more carefully.

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Updated 11/15/18 at 10:37am

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