Err, that is...well, let me explain.
There's a lot of information being thrown at us all the time (news, entertainment, advertising, status updates), and a near-constant drive to try to make that information compelling, interesting or just weird enough to stand out from all the rest (think cable news, YouTube videos, all of the people making a living on various forms of marketing, political rhetoric).
It's a bit understandable, then, that in our daily communications we are tempted to exaggerate and embellish things. How else will our commentary about how life-changing this bowl of soup is stand out against all of the other commentary about how earth-shattering that coffee drink is or how vitally important that cute baby animal video is??
George Orwell said, "The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words."
We can't win the hyperbole game for more than a few minutes (people are infinitely creative in their linguistic embroidery), and I've noticed that I feel pretty hollow when I try. It tends to increase the gap between what I'm saying and what I'm really feeling and thinking.
And so I try to be careful about not going to extremes when describing my day to day experiences to others. I'm trying to be less concerned with language that stands out than I am with saying what's true for me in the most plain and clear way that I know how. I realize this means that my words and thoughts may not fare well against the latest viral video or dramatic tweet, but I think I'm okay with that.
A slightly tongue-in-cheek translation guide I have in my head:
|OH MY GOD||That seems really significant.|
|The Best Ever||I really enjoyed that.|
|Amaaaaaaazing||It really made an impression on me.|
|That makes me want to kill myself.||I'm really upset by that.|
|I LOVE that.||I like that.|
|Whatever it takes||A reasonable amount of effort|
|Winning the Internet||The most remarkable thing I've seen online today.|
And so on. 🙂
Of course, there are times when using colorful expressions is just the right thing to do, and I do appreciate the place of hyperbole in language and communication.
I just hope we don't totally lose the ability to communicate in plain and authentic ways (a hyperbolic scenario in itself?), and to really notice a meaningful or funny exaggeration when it comes along.
Because there are some really outstanding cute baby animal videos out there.