I watched President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night. Not because I’m interested in politics; I couldn’t care less. I don’t have cable and it was on every channel that I am magically able to receive through the airwaves. (Yeah, I know, it’s like living in the Third World!) One phrase that he kept repeating, in various contexts, was “winning the future.” Since when did the future become a carnival game? Is it really something that can be “won?”
I get what he was trying to say but it reminded me of the current trend to use “WIN!” as a general positive exclamation or in regards to things that can’t, in general, be “won.” To win something there needs to either be a competition or an actual prize. You can’t just randomly win something. Life, for example, cannot be won or lost. No one gets sent home from life with a blue ribbon or a consolation prize; you just get to die, regardless of how awesome your life was. You can’t win at a day or a date or a holiday or an experience. You can enjoy it. It can be a success. It can even be super awesome! But unless you set some parameters beforehand with at least one other person — ie., “Whoever gets laid wins happy hour!” or “Whoever spends the most money wins the shopaholic prize!” — there really aren’t any winners.
You’re more than welcome to believe you’re a winner. Or a loser, if that’s your preference. You can win at chess and lose at checkers, you can excel at one thing and be less than excellent at something else. But you can’t win the future. And if you do manage to win the future, maybe you can win another one and trade up for the past!