Thursday, April 10, 2014

The best thing since chewing gum.

I'm starting a new weekly segment on here I'm calling "More of This, No More of That" where I rant and rave about two completely unrelated things that have been on my mind. I have a lot of things that bring me frustration. I have a lot of things that bring me joy. Here's my opportunity to tell you about them.

More of This: Not Chewing Gum

We had a school store in my high school that sold spirit wear and calendar books with our mascot on them (Go Celts) and candy. Everyday after lunch freshman year, my friends and I would grab a box of CherryHeads and a pack of gum. I chewed my way through a lot of packs of gum in high school. It might have had to do with my plan to always be ready for Jeff, the senior quarterback, who one day was going to be ready to admit to the school he was in love with me and go in for the kiss.

That kiss never happened. Unrelated (though possibly related), I can't remember the last time I bought a pack of gum. I guess it was at a Target a couple months ago. I don't really chew gum anymore. And apparently, neither does any one else.

Gum sales are down 11 percent in the last four years, and people don't really know why.

There's theories, ofcourse: the "In this Economy?!" Theory, the "Not Enough Gum Marketing" Theory, and the "Why Chew Gum When Starburst Minis Just Came Out" Theory.

My money is on the last of these. People are keeping their mouths busy with other stuff: Stuff that you don't have to squish into a torn-off corner from a magazine page when it loses it's flavor; stuff that you can swallow quickly when your aunt calls you for your monthly chat and you don't want to be smacking your gum the whole time she's chewing off your ear; stuff that you're not going to find underneath your movie theater seat (PRAISE JESUS).

That classic image of the valley girl chatting on the phone - gums blazing - is extinct.

I like this. Let's keep not chewing gum.

No More of That: The Superlativization of Everything Ever

Generation Y has an obsession with calling everything the best and the worst, the coolest, the grossest, the smelliest, the funniest, the smartest.

My generation loves hyperbole (exs. Buzzfeed, our use of the word literally all of the time) and we know that nobody is actually serious, but what happens when we actually are serious? What happens when we actually are being literal?

I've come up with some examples that don't work for superlativizing and those that do.

Examples that don't work:

  • "My mom makes the best pizza." 
    • No. Your mom probably makes a great pizza. It's probably absolutely delicious. I would likely enjoy several servings of your mom's pizza, probably several more than my fair portion. But your mom does not make the best pizza. Sorry.
  • "You're the worst."
    • The Worst?! This one is so nondescript that it's suggesting out of all places, things, people and ideas in the history of existence I am the very worst. I am the worst at existing. Ever.
  • "You have the hairiest face." 
    • For the record, no one has ever said this to me. Someone did say this to my friend. He has a beard. That doesn't mean he has the hairiest face. This girl has a pretty hairy face. And if you're getting punny, this guy has a pretty harry face. But how in the world could you possibly superlative someone's face hair above another person's face hair?
Examples that do work:
  • Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world. 
    • I think he's raced some races and somebody found he did it faster than other people. 
  • Nickelback is the worst band. 
    • Everyone knows this as a fact. Out of all bands that ever existed, Nickelback is the best at not being a good band. 
With that last bullet in mind, I understand superlatives are usually very subjective. I think golden retriever puppies are the cutest things in the world. My boyfriend thinks my buddha belly after a chipotle burrito is the most attractive thing in the world.  I think that driving on old bridges is the scariest thing I've ever had to do and some people jump off of bridges for fun. I got voted Most Outgoing in high school. I'm sure there were other people in my school who were more outgoing than me, certainly less awkward and weird. 

Even though a lot of superlative is based on opinion, I think we need to be more careful with deciding everything is the best and the worst. It starts to lose its touch! If you take a bite out of the best freaking pizza you've ever had, and you exclaim, "This is the best freaking pizza I've ever had!!!" nobody is going to believe you. Don't become the boy who cried best pizza.

So there. Let's stop superlativizing every TINIEST thing. 

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