Friday, March 8, 2019

It's awesome! (A bit more on the decay of meaning and language.)

I've noticed lately something funny about the English language. At least the English language as it is used in advertising agencies.

Let's say you're working on a script, or you're sending out a rough-cut for review. It's late and you want to get feedback so you can either make your changes and go home, or simply go home.

Someone writes back and says something like, "I'd change the second sentence from "The willow trees dipped in the spring," to "The willow trees dipped gracefully toward the river, bending languidly like tired ballet dancers."

OK. You say. I'll make that change. I don't hate it too much.

Then someone else writes back.

"Awesome!" he says.

The minute you get the word awesome is the minute you should stop relaxing. Because the person who wrote awesome doesn't mean awesome.

No. He means he wants you to think he saw what you sent but the fact is, he was too busy to really give substantive comments. He's too important to take two minutes to actually look at something. So he responds with a meaningless word--awesome--or a thumbs up emoji.

Almost invariably, if you gullibly proceed as if your work is really awesome, he will reappear at some later date and relate in excruciating detail on how absolutely un-awesome your work really was. He will say this with force, and at times, actual physical threat.

If you ask me, use of words like "great," "you're the man," "I love it," and "awesome" really mean "Get off my back. Go away. I'll look at this when it's already too late. That way, I share no responsibility in your wretched attempt at creative. Especially if someone up the line hates it."

And if it happens your work really was awesome, well, he was right all along. 

That is the state of the English language in advertising today.

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