Are you currently devastated? Have you been devastated today or in the past couple of days? Are you expecting to be devastated anytime soon?
If the answer to all of these is no, then you, my friend, like me, are seriously odd.
According to every reality TV show going, “devastated” is the most common emotional state of the human being in the UK and Ireland at the moment.
“So, Minor Celebrity, how will you feel if you don’t make it to the quarter-finals of MasterChef?” “I’ll be devastated.”
“So, Minor Celebrity, you missed a step in that jive which might cost you some votes from the judges of Strictly Come Dancing — how do you feel? “I’m devastated.”
“So, Hopeful Nonentity, you’ve turned up to sing on X Factor with too much tan, a shiny costume and no discernable talent whatsoever — how do you feel?” “Yeah, I’m dead chuffed to be here, like.” “And if you are put out at this stage, how will you feel?” “Oh my god, I’ll be devastated!”
(It works even better if you hear that last one in a really horrible whiny, the-world-owes-me-a-living Liverpool accent)
In TV land, people are finding rising damp in their houses in the presence of Sarah Beeny; their Victoria Sponges are failing to rise on Master Baker; their dreadful meals and dubious taste in interior decor are being criticised on Come Dine With Me and to a man, and woman, every single one of them is devastated.
In sharp contrast, on Radio 4 this week, an elderly woman was recounting her experience during the Battle of Britain in 1940. She and her colleagues had to move out of their RAF building because it had taken a direct hit and “quite a few of the girls were killed” in the attack, on what became known as “the hardest day”.
If anyone was entitled to use the “D” word, it would be this old lady. But she spoke instead of the great spirit of camaraderie among people all working together in the face of huge difficulties.
And she had a laugh, too, remembering how the RAF pilots used to spend their time between death-defying sortees by drinking a lot and having parties with the girls like her. “We were very young”, she said, as if by way of explanation.
Today, in Pakistan, millions have lost their homes and families in terrible flooding. But what words can we reach for to describe their plight, if the big guns like “devastated” are brought out everytime a cake sags or a footballer misses a goal?
I’m fully expecting Orla Guerin to turn up at the side of the stage during the X Factor heats some time soon.
(She’s the BBC News reporter with the Voice of Doom who turns up to cover the worst stories and starts every report with “dawn over Gaza ” or “dusk in Dubrovnik ...” or “midnight in Malawi ...”)
You know things are really bad when she appears, looking like “The Scream” brought to life, and just as scary. With her nasal monotone, voicing over footage of yet another losing contestant, she’ll say: “Teatime in Tunbridge Wells and another wannabee is ejected from the contest. We found Chantelle-Kylie-Tamara, just 16 years old, wandering, devastated, in the corridors, dazed and confused, unable to tell us what her real hair colour was ...”
And see if that doesn’t happen? Well, you know how I’ll feel, don’t you?