It's interesting to note the frequency with which some words are employed in the English language despite the richness of its vocabulary. And it's not limited to the "awesome" and "so" and "totally" overused by those born after Ronald Reagan became president.
One of the more prominent examples currently is "robust." From a robust commitment of troops to Afghanistan to a robust public option, the word seems to pop up everywhere in conversation nowadays. I overheard two engineer-types in a restaurant the other day discussing the need for a robust variety of solutions to a software glitch they were addressing.
The term that's got my goat recently is "outrage." Just in the past week, I've heard people expressing their outrage at Tiger Woods's serial infidelities, President Obama's receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize, the health insurance reform bill making its way through the Senate, and the man who threw a tomato at Sarah Palin.
One of the more trivial targets of outrage was the MTV reality series, "Jersey Shore." Apparently, the show focuses on a group of young Italian-American males, self-described "Guidos", their fascination with hair gel, six-pack abs, and the buxom bleach blonde Guidettes who love them.
Italian-American societies everywhere expressed their outrage at the way their proud heritage was being stereotyped and demeaned by the show's banality. Individuals of Italian descent hastened to add their outrage, frequently stating that Italian-Americans are the last minority it's acceptable to ridicule. Domino's Pizza removed its sponsorship of "Jersey Shore," presumably under pressure, because the show didn't enhance the chain's image.
The outcome of the outrage was predictable. "Jersey Shore" might have collapsed like an overbaked soufflé had it been ignored. Now buoyed by the media mini-firestorm, it will almost certainly survive for at least a few more episodes as curious onlookers tune in.
Mission accomplished, MTV...
Perhaps everyone needs to dial back his outrage at the more mundane and trivial occurrences in life, lest the power of outrage be blunted and lost through overuse, and unavailable when it's truly needed.