Ours is an age when absolutely nothing is left to the imagination. And whatever isn’t left to the imagination is nearing intellectual extinction. In the near future, I suspect, we’ll all watch and hear the real-time thoughts at the exact moment some modern day Kapteyn puts 2+2 together and a light bulb doesn’t so much as go off but metaphorically explodes — appropriately enough — and explains in a sentence or two some great mystery such as the nature of Dark Matter and why it IS.
This type of progress partially explains why we see so much “body-cam” or cell phone images of things as they happen — and of course that typically involves, if it hits YouTube or CNN or any online newsfeed, tragedy. And who among us doesn’t sit with slack-jawed fascination as actual footage of a disaster scrolls before our eyes?
I watched scenes last week from the massive earthquake in Alaska, captured on the devices of Everyday Folks, and it hit me: the go-to verbal response for almost any significant disaster is “Oh my God!” I think I counted five different spontaneous “Oh my God” reactions from different Alaskans holding cell phones as they recorded their state collapse around them.
I went back and researched witness accounts or on-site reactions of traffic accidents and terrorist attacks and mass shootings and, yep, the overwhelming winner in the Reaction Exclamation category is “Oh my God!” followed distantly by “Holy (choose expletive).”
I think I’m going to start a company that puts on seminars that involve creative exercises to increase creative spontaneity and lessen our reliance, as members of a society increasingly subjected to awful things, on “Oh my God!”
Here are a few alternatives you can practice while driving or exercising. Go ahead, holler them out in panic or whisper them in an awed tone.
1. “That’s nutty!”
2. “I can honestly say THAT astonishes me!”
3. “Look! Look what George Soros did!”
4. “Don’t look!”
5. “Great Tupac’s ghost!”
You can obviously think of your own possibilities, too.
If all this sounds shallow, I’m just suggesting it could make things a little more … well, less predictable in times of duress. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this — and for the best-intentioned reasons.
And so, at 4:40 a.m. last Sunday, when my sister called with the news that my sainted mother had passed away after a long decline, what did I say?
“Oh my God!”
Sleep easy, Mom. I love you even though you raised a weird kid.