Why you should avoid “amazing” when writing.

How many times last week did you hear, “This Cobb salad is amazing!”

Maybe it wasn’t a salad; rather, it was the price of almond milk, how the gym wasn’t very crowded or how dry these moisture-wicking socks kept someone’s feet. All amazing—not just good, nice or agreeable—AMAZING.

Do you remember when “amazing” meant something? Apparently, it once referred to something at the limit of human comprehension; something astonishing or wondrous. Something that arrests the consciousness of a human being and causes them to mouth inaudibly, “I can’t believe I’m seeing this”. 

Likely we all have experienced amazing at some point. The unending ocean. A new life taking its first breath. The roar of a waterfall. These moments are lightning in our brains, and their effect on us—the deafening thunder of mental clarity that follows—is what amazing is made of. Stunning, dumbfounding experiences that cause our minds to hit its face against the seat in front of it as the brakes get slammed on our sense of self-importance.

A cobb salad can only do so much.

So how did this all get started? When did amazing become a synonym for good? It’s likely not a coincidence that everything became amazing at the same time that social-media started making us hold up a mirror to our lives and think “you’re doing it wrong”.

Think back to your first Instagram post. Just like a newborn fawn taking its first unsteady steps, you probably started with ordinary posts with an unnecessary filter just for fun, not really knowing what you were doing. But then you started following others that posted gourmet meals and vacations on white-sandy beaches. Pretty soon you saw images like these every day until you’re no longer excited about posting that picture of your dog taking a nap. This can make us try to drum up some of our own thunder by calling special attention to what’s really just our ordinary, everyday experiences: thus, “amazing” replaces “good”.

But, there just isn’t a proper synonym for thunder… and that’s how it’s supposed to be! We don’t need one, because it’s actually rare and special. Really, can you imagine nothing but jarring, life-changing experiences? Don’t we need what’s common in our lives to have a healthy appreciation for what truly is astounding, bewildering and breathtaking? As well as to simply have a balanced view of our life on this planet?

Not everything has to be amazing

English is a wonderful, descriptive language with words that fit the varying shades of life, experiences and anything else. Can we all go back to using the wide-variety of adjectives and give “amazing” some time to cool off so that it’s ready for when something actually is amazing?

We all know that Cobb salad didn’t change their life- let’s all be happy about that.