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Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Hyperbolic Hyperbole

Michael Tyson

I've seen evidence of this problem over a trillion times and I know that each time someone does it a billion babies die and a bunch of rednecks marry their trucks.

The problem I am addressing is the overuse of hyperbole. Hyperbole is, simply put, exaggeration. Ideally, it is used in order to make a point or evoke strong feelings, but it's not meant to be taken literally. This becomes a serious problem when someone adds the word "literally" before an example of hyperbole, and that is also what I wish to address.

Politics, especially, has seen the abundant usage of this device. The slippery-slope argument is a form of hyperbole. This is used to state that if we do X then the extreme case of Y will certainly happen. If we allow same-sex marriage then people will be marrying their dogs. I personally don't even see a problem in human-canine wedlock, but I digress.

Many news organizations can use it as well. Often a headline will read that thousands could die if such-and-such does not happen. In reality not a single person dies from a lack of such-and-such, but it makes for more readers/viewers.

This use of hyperbole in news is truly sickening to me, since I like to think that my medium is possibly more pure than it really is.

Another form of hyperbole is to offer up wild comparisons that really have nothing to do with the original subject. Comparing Obama to Hitler, for example, is off the mark because the only things these two people have in common is that they are both elected leaders of their respective countries. One wanted to repair the healthcare industry of America, the other wanted to use minorities as slave labor and scapegoats for his country's problems. This is not quite a fair comparison.

Why am I giving this grammar lesson? Why should you, the reader, care about the high amount of hyperbole in modern culture? Why are you bombarding me with questions? Well I'll answer a few of these questions.

The grammar lesson is not to limit the hyperbole out there, rather I would just like to see it properly applied. The examples I gave above are actually close to the proper usage and, logic-defying as they may be, are correct in my humble estimation.

What I have a problem with is in everyday conversation where people don't even realize what they are saying. The statement that a girl makes about waiting for years in a line for a coffee comes off as annoyingly untrue.

The constant usage of hyperbole also serves to make your future statements, however realistic, seem exaggerated. If that same girl comes back and says she was waiting for hours in a line, I am unlikely to believe her, even though it could be true.

So mind your hyperbole usage. If you don't you could wind up cold, alone, unloved and dead.




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