Candice Holdsworth
Candice Holdsworth

Epic failure

“OMG! EPIC!!!”

For anyone who regularly frequents online spaces, this is a familiar refrain. It is the default comment for even the most pedestrian or banal of content. So much so, that the word itself has taken on the same nature of the objects or events it is so undeservedly used to describe.

Type “epic” into YouTube and you will receive (at the latest count) 3 650 000 results – unsurprisingly dissimilar in subject matter, but all alike in fleeting insignificance.

Not that I’m knocking everything frivolous or insignificant; many hours spent on Failblog will attest to that. “O Schadenfreude!”

Okay, I will concede that the “Epic Fails” are actually perfectly deserving of their title.

However, having said that, it must be stated that very few things are actually worthy of such a description. Like “Funny Cats in Water” for instance, or more disturbingly:

“Remember when Amber kissed Drake?” #epic

It is a word that has replaced “weird” as the most over-used, “lazy” adjective. “Curate”, used as a verb, comes a close second. It seems we do not look for housemates any longer, no, we are “curating” a house-share; we do not invite people on nights out, we “curate” social gatherings.

We might award third place to the corruption of the word “liberal”. Indeed many “Liberals” that I know of are pretty unlikely to find Friedrich Von Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom particularly instructive, if not downright offensive.

The blogger Maddox is particularly uncharitable in expressing his displeasure over the frequent misuse of “epic”.

“If you have used the word out of context, which means any time since 2008, you should stop whatever it is you’re doing and start plowing fields, because you lack the ability to form language that doesn’t involve mimicking others, and are therefore a cow. [sic]”

What is so tragically (ah, Tragedies) disappointing about the dilution of the word is that it may point to the fact that we have lost the true art of epic storytelling. And strangely enough, we are living through times perfectly suited for it. The world is experiencing major shifts in the economy and demography not seen for generations. “Hubris” and “sub-prime mortgages” are surprisingly synonymous.

The Ancients were able to tell the story of being human so well. One may think that modern science could tell us best about it, but perhaps the task is more ably undertaken by the poet.

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