I hate the words literally and obsessed.
Let me describe a scenario every Daily Beacon reader has encountered:
Let's say you and your friends are sitting around a cozy Starbucks synthetic wood table, enjoying a rousing discussion about your respective tastes in cinema. You say to your friends, "I never got around to seeing Argo, and it's absolutely killing me. Did any of you guys happen to see it?"
One of your fellow cinephiles nearly bursts from the anticipation of finally being able to make manifest their love for Ben Affleck's 2012 historical drama screaming, "OH MY GOD I AM LITERALLY OBSESSED WITH ARGO!"
He or she goes on to give you their dissertation on how Affleck completely captured the suspense and tension between Islamic and Western cultures towards the end of the 1970s. After your friend finishes that spiel, you and your friends go on about your conversations, bouncing from topic to topic, when all of you notice the fresh banana nut muffins being put behind the counter.
The Affleck enthusiast immediately pipes up, "Do you smell that? I am literally obsessed with banana nut muffins!" but refrains from giving another 10 minute discourse on how artificial fruit flavoring really sets off the flavor of a bone-dry 12-hour-old muffin (as riveting as that would be).
This genesis of flagrant hyperbole use is desensitizing us and narrowing the gap between how we describe the mediocre and the fantastic.
I hear the gross overuse of the word "obsessed" nearly every single day of my life. My life is surrounded by Chris Traeger's. For those of you unfamiliar with Rob Lowe's obsessive compulsive and neurotic character on NBC's smash hit comedy Parks and Recreation, he never fails to accentuate every hysterical sentence with some iteration of "obsessed" or "literally." Although one single twitchy bureaucrat on one of the most successful network comedies in the past decade manages to make the incessant misapplication of "literally" and "obsessed" humorous, the mirth disappears as we figuratively beat "literally" into a bloody and frivolous pulp.
No longer is "obsessed" saved for moments of being completely and intrusively consumed by an idea or image. It is flippantly used to describe someone's fleeting interest in underwater basket weaving (or in writing clichés).
It seems to me this overuse is an attempt to assert ones commitment to their interests over someone else's. When one person comes to you and says, "Wow, I finally got to catch some 'Walking Dead' on Netflix, and it is great!"
If you are a longtime fan, you would feel inclined to show your superior fandom in a non-obtuse way, and coming back with a "I have been obsessed with 'Walking Dead' since it came out" is the perfect way to gently let your friend know that their knowledge of the undead is far inferior, and pat yourself on the back for being so devoted to your interests.
The more we exaggerate and one-up one another, the less weight our words carry and the more we diminish the substance of the English language.
Professors continually complain about the inability of the average student to write effectively, and most attribute it to poor education. However, I am inclined to believe that it is due to a changing culture where abbreviated writing, texts and over-sensationalized speech has stripped us of our ability to truly describe the mediocre.
More tragically, it has stripped us of our ability to describe what we are truly have interest in.
Choose your words wisely. Literally.
Chase Parker is a junior in biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.