Everything is dead now. Self-help is over. I don’t know what remote-access VPN is, but that’s done, too. The office has died. Not the show, which will stream until the sun turns into a lump of coal, but the actual physical space of an office. The bra has also died. If you read The Atlantic, you have attended impromptu funerals for men, reality, work, democracy (fair enough), and the American church. Newspapers and magazines, travel marketing (oh no!), comedy, and mayonnaise have all died. This very publication has indulged in the phrasing from time to time.
Reading about the mythical death of something can be as satisfying as writing it. These are morbid times. Death is on everyone’s mind, and if someone out there has assigned it to something you’ve always found suspect — living rooms, freeways, buddy comedies, Burger King — then it can provide a little, black shot of dopamine to your addled psyche.
The problem, of course, is that not all of us have good boundaries when it comes to overstatement. When I click on a “The Death of Underwear” story, I already know underwear isn’t dead. I get the metaphor right away and engage with the article with that understanding already firmly established.
How to Let Things Slide
This guide is optimized for dealing with kids, but it works for other irritating people, too
But other people don’t always do that. Show that underwear story to our president and he will instantly believe that literally every American citizen is going commando at all waking hours of the day. In 2020 America, the line between hyperbole and outright lying has become indistinct and cost us EVERYTHING (I’m exaggerating a bit on that last word). Joints like Fox News have exploited that fuzziness to extreme ends, contradicting reality with such absolute vehemence that their viewers find reality itself to be unfathomable.
What I propose instead is that we start beating the opposite cliché into the ground. Let’s start declaring things alive.