Hyperbole is the worst thing ever

Cheapjack illustration by Todd Leopold.

I hate hyperbole with the heat of a gazillion suns.

And, to reverse an old joke, there’s so much of it, too.

From around the Web, 1:30 p.m.:

(And only one of those was from BuzzFeed, exclamation point! I guess they’re saving up their uses of “incredible,” “epic,” “mic-drop” and “supercalifragilisticexpialamazeballs” for later in the week.)

Yeah, I get it. If a site doesn’t convince you that the next thing you look at will be the most amazing, colossal and spectacular story you’re going to read (or watch) in the next 15 seconds, you’re going to move on. They won’t get the clicks and you won’t have your life changed forever.

It’s just marketing, the Internet equivalent of “new and improved” or “the best (fill-in-the-blank) yet.”

But it does the public a disservice. It infantilizes us.

A few years ago, I wrote a story about how the Internet was just like junior high. It was all about instant gratification and little emotional control, and the maturity and patience that allegedly comes with adulthood had gone out the window. I don’t know if the problem has gotten worse, but it certainly hasn’t gotten better.

(Perhaps the most distressing sentence I’ve read in recent weeks was in Dwight Garner’s review of Michael Kinsley’s new book, “Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide”: “One brutal takeaway from ‘Old Age’ is that life will always be like high school, up unto our final breaths.” Gee, thanks. And I generally liked high school.)

I bring all this up because a presidential campaign brings out the worst in both candidates and commentators. The latter insist that this event is the turning point, that candidate is toast. And the candidates have to paint opponents in shades of black to make themselves look better.

Neither side pays for their errors, either. Sartre famously suggested “hell is other people.” These days, hell is the perpetual American political campaign and seeing the same talking heads sensationalizing it.

Of course, there’s one candidate in particular who’s grating on me this election year. Forget his positions on the issues; what about “it’s a disaster” or he’ll be “the best thing ever”?

Trump knows what he’s saying: He’s a shrewd marketer, after all. It might take him all the way to the White House.

Damn, it’s going to get on my nerves.

But I won’t call it “the worst thing ever.” I can imagine worse. Perhaps you can, too.



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