Recently, it seems all of Twitter is collectively saying, “Lighten up, Neil.”
The worlds of science and pop culture don’t often collide (at least in our nonfictional realm), but that hasn’t kept noted astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson from achieving bona fide celebrity thanks to his witty approaches to science and its practical applications.
But recently, deGrasse Tyson’s online musings have veered from the fascinating to the somewhat ornery, likely costing him a bit amount of public goodwill in the process.
As with so many public figures, deGrasse Tyson uses social media to convey his various opinions, witticisms, and thoughtful takes on global issues. However, a recent “get off my lawn” type tweet about the evolution of language has even his fans wondering if he’s devolving in regard to the insight he provides.
Here it is, lamenting the dilution of the word “awesome,” which has likely been occurring since deGrasse Tyson was a young boy. He nonetheless felt that 2018 was a good time to broach the subject.
In my day, the word “Awesome" was reserved for things like curing Polio and walking on the Moon, not for food or TV shows.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@Neil deGrasse Tyson)1523583879.0
Much as deGrasse Tyson is a certified authority in matters of many things space and science, so too is Merriam-Webster in the realm of etymology and word usage. And they weren’t having it.
@neiltyson Neil.— Merriam-Webster (@Merriam-Webster)1523587607.0
Certainly, someone of deGrasse Tyson’s intellect and social media pedigree had to have known that beginning any musing with “in my day” is a recipe for disaster.
he is literally grandpa simpson https://t.co/4PV0PlPBpK— Sonny Bunch (@Sonny Bunch)1523624713.0
The Grandpa Simpson comparisons didn’t stop there.
For Neil Degrasse Tyson's future tweets https://t.co/M2dFVUxsBF— Steven Weirich (@Steven Weirich)1523625458.0
The response below speaks not only to his criticism surrounding the widespread cheapening of “awesome” but also a number of other tweets NDGT has published seemingly for the sole purpose of ruining everyone’s good time.
If you were excited or just vaguely interested in the concept of Friday the 13th, deGrasse Tyson took time out the very next day to let you know that you are wrong and your feelings are incorrect.
If you do the full calculation you will find that Friday the 13th is no less rare on the calendar than Thursday the 12th.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@Neil deGrasse Tyson)1523629584.0
The same holds true for leap years and days, which deGrasse Tyson would like you to know are completely not special and instead are wholly unremarkable.
Oh, and his stance on “awesome” feels more than a little hypocritical, considering he’s used it in some pretty pedestrian (if imaginative) contexts.
@neontaster @KateHydeNY Also @neiltyson: https://t.co/Civ1lvdwWo— John Gray (@John Gray)1523626163.0
If we’re willing to grant to deGrasse Tyson that octopi playing ping-pong would be awesome, maybe he could lighten up a little.