Since my own education wasn’t so great, I won’t assume that everyone knows what hyperbole means. It means to exaggerate on purpose. As an example, “Your suitcase weighs a ton!” The suitcase in question probably weighs close to 50 pounds, but certainly does not weigh a ton, and neither the speaker nor the listener actually believes that it does. But the exaggeration clearly makes the point that the speaker thinks the listener packed too much stuff for a weekend getaway.
In my writing I try to avoid hyperbole. If I consciously exaggerate just to make a point, I will lose my readers trust. Even a statement like, “The tree’s limbs stretched all the way to the clouds,” which is a pretty way to describe a tall tree, sounds false to me. I don’t use hyperbole in my writing because I don’t trust purposeful exaggerations. I don’t like poetry for that same reason. Just say what you really mean, and don’t use twice as many words to do it. It’s a tall tree, done.
But I feel the opposite when it comes to speaking. I use a lot of hyperbole when I’m speaking, especially when I’m trying to make a point and my listener isn’t paying enough attention. I would never say, “A man in the park climbed a tall tree,” while talking to friends. I would say, “It was the biggest tree I’d ever seen, and the dude climbed all the way to the top, right up to the clouds!” It makes for a much better bit of conversation that way. It’s almost as if I need to advertise myself, just to get people to listen to me. Maybe that has to do with growing up in a large family. The only way to be heard was to tell the craziest story imaginable, full of hyperbole and strong emotion.
Lately, I’ve been making videos and uploading them to my YouTube channel, and I find the videos where I use a lot of hyperbole, (OMG! I hated this book! It is the worst book ever written!) receive a lot more ‘likes’ than the ones where I convey honest emotions and feelings. It is the same problem all over again. Over 4 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube, and I have to fight to get one minute of that attention focused on me.
But if the point of doing the YouTube videos is to bring attention to my writing, will those watchers be disappointed to find my writing is simple and to the point?
2 thoughts on “Hyperbole and me”
I entirely agree with your point – hyperbole has no place in writing – it is a poor substitute for actually finding an engaging subject.
The answer to your question? More than likely is my answer! I’m a disgusting snob – Not privileged (council estate born baby) – Not rich (charity shops are my saviour) – and I paid for my Masters degree by working in pizza hut, so no silver spoon. But I have to say I find vast swathes of culture vapid at best, at worst inducing the urge to vomit!!
We have substituted meaning and depth for exaggeration and hyperbole.
Just bought some eggs – LOL. NO NO NO!! You did not LOL, no-one LOL’d, indeed, no-one cared. Your trip to buy stamps was not ‘awesome’, you shoes are not awesome, your status updates are not awesome – you sir/madam are not awesome!! You are tedious beyond all telling, empty beyond all understanding, lacking in self-awareness beyond all forgiveness!! You’re pathetic exploits are not savage, wicked, slammin, banging or sick – they are mundane.
Heaven only knows what these people say when something big actually does happen. You’ve had a baby? Yeah, whatever, but that new top is totally OMG!!
Luckily I have no strong feelings on the matter so am ambivalent. LOL!
Ah, you make me laugh! So glad to have inspired that rant!
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