It was once said that the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary is that little bit extra. A potent statement, and one full of wisdom, but one I find myself disagreeing with more and more by the day.
In this age of sensationalist media it is my opinion that adjectives that used to be the preserve of linguist expression are now all to often thrown about willy-nilly.
I realised this this week when over my breakfast cereal I was watching the BBC news and found them doing a human piece about, what was effectively someone walking up a few hills in the Lake District. Now the argument could be made that yes, these people were using the experience as a training event before going off to climb some proper mountains. However, I could not shake from my mind, that at the exact point of interview these people had none nothing more than thousands of people do every weekend and every summer in our many National Parks. Heck, I'm aware of races where lunatics run up 3 mountains in the Peak District in an afternoon.
My point of contention is that upon return to the studio, the news reader's comment was a mere “Extraordinary people, simply extraordinary.” Before continuing on to the next story.
But is it extraordinary? At the current moment in time, as far as I can tell there is little of the extraordinary here. A collection of people are walking up and down a hill a few times a day. Yes, they have ambitions of grandeur, but dont we all?
I'm not even against the story as a whole. It was a typical human story, pleasant enough over breakfast, and a cry for them to drum up some support and valuable charitable donations for their cause. So noble, yes, extraordinary no. At this point their only extraordinary feature is to have had the commitment to get up off the sofa and actually do something. Which granted in this modern world could be considered to be extraordinary, but not for me.
For this to be an extraordinary tale, I'd want them to be formerly 50 stone, with no specialist training and running up Kilimanjaro. Perhaps with the backing of an eccentric millionaire who's funding the whole thing for his own amusement.
These days, everything seems to be about very special people doing extraordinary things for their own self-less ends. The media seems intent on thrusting us images of the perfect or the extraordinary. When in reality most are medical… for-lack-of-a-better-word freaks, or incredibly lucky, or a victim of their environment.
Reality television “stars” are not extraordinary. By definition they are on television because they are exactly like everyone else in reality.
Perhaps we should stop reporting events with such empathy and return to our British roots of apathetic reporting of fact and reserve adjectives such as extraordinary for the truly brilliant.