Hyperbole is The Best Thing Ever!
We live in the age of hyperbole…
- Videos aren’t amusing, they make you, “ROTFL.”
- Things aren’t “cool,” they are, “THE BEST THING IN THE HISTORY OF EVER!”
- News isn’t sad, it’s “earth-shattering.”
- New products aren’t “helpful,” they are “jaw-dropping innovations that will change how you think about technology FOREVER.”
Because the web is big and noisy (or, in this case, “infinite” and “deafening”) everything we say online needs its volume jacked up a few notches to actually be heard.
Hyperbole is when you turn that volume up to 11.
For those of you who zoned out in English class that day, hyperbole is…
The use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally.
It is a side affect of our digital discourse becoming increasingly polarized in tone.
Today, people either post or comment on content with a “meh” kind of tone, (like a “like” on Facebook or cursory response such as, “great news!”) Or they post or share content with an exaggerated kind of tone, (because if they’re going to take the time to actually sit and type out something, then they’re going to type something meaningful and bold!)
There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground between the two.
The boy who cried, “OMG, you guys! This wolf is KILLER!”
The problem is, most things we do or encounter on a day-to-day basis live in that middle ground…
- Most things don’t actually make us LOL. They just make us smile.
- Most things don’t “rock us to our core.” They just make us stop and think, “hmm…that’s interesting,” and move on.
- Most things don’t shock us into activism and action. They just make us feel sad for a bit.
So, when we use hyperbole to describe those thoughts, feelings and actions, (instead of more appropriate — and less glamorous — adjectives) we become the modern version of the boy who cried wolf.
If we say everything is AMAZING, after awhile people start to question if we think anything isn’t amazing.
And when something comes along which really IS amazing, no one pays any attention when we want to talk about it because we’ve already over-played the attention card.
So, be careful how often you use words and phrases like…
- Best. [fill in the blank]. Ever.
Because that’s how we describe things which are exceptional, and “exceptional” doesn’t happen every day.
For a great take on this topic, listen to (it’s just an audio track) Louis CK’s beef with the overuse of the word, “hilarious.” Heads-up, this language is NSFW (not safe for work) so pop in those earbuds, first.