Just about every time I fire up my iPad, I come across something someone has decided to call “heartbreaking.” Sometimes, let me stipulate, I’m sure the precipitating event actually is heartbreaking. Certainly if you’re caught in a natural disaster or you lose someone dear to you, it can be heartbreaking.
But I think we’ve passed Peak Heartbreak.
1. Things that are actually heartbreaking: losing everything, having someone you love die, moments of national or world grief such as 9/11.
2. Things that are not heartbreaking: when a Facebook friend’s chinchilla dies, or pretty much anything else, ever.
Whenever I see anything in #2 described as heartbreaking, I think of those videos of stony-faced latte drinkers typing ROTFL.
Social media somehow encourage the faking of grand emotions, perhaps because misunderstanding is so easy that only exaggeration is unambiguous. Or maybe people just like seeming more empathetic/emotional than they actually are.
When Dave Eggers wrote “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” it was an obviously ironic title. Not sure it would play that way today.
But then who am I to say? I’m sorry about your chinchilla. Just not that sorry.