The overuse of words renders them meaningless. When car accidents or the untimely deaths of, well, nobody special are routinely referred to as “tragedies,” we are left with nothing to express the anguish of a real tragedy.
I was at a conference a few months ago, and during a coffee break, one histrionic young woman told us
“It was a tragedy — I discovered that my bottle of travel-sized saline solution was empty!”
I thought she was being ironic, so I responded
“I want your life if that’s what qualifies as a tragedy. Tell me, does it count as a tragedy that there’s a hole in my favorite skirt?”
As it turns out, she wasn’t kidding. Her ears reddened and she sneered unforgivingly
“Would it count as a tragedy if I poured my tea over your head?”
I assured her I had no idea, as it was her definition of tragedy we were discussing and hurried off to more civilized conversations. Since then, I’ve given up. I know there’s no way for me to fight it, so I’ve joined in. The greatest tragedy of all time is that I’m nearly out of popcorn. It is rivaled only by the fact that sometimes, I have to wait at red lights. Oh, the humanity.
It’s a funny fact that tragedies are far more common in the lives of spoiled children than in any other population.