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I bet you can

Hyperbole seems to be increasingly popular in the day-to-day expressions, especially among the young and privileged. Before this turns into a full rant, I have to admit that overstatement it can help liven things up. For example:

“Your purse weighs a ton. What do you have in here?”

“She was smiling from ear to ear.”

“Sir, you have won the internet today.”

A bit of comedic exaggeration never hurt anyone. But then we then enter the realm of well-intentioned flattery (e.g “You’re the best. Seriously, you’re a lifesaver!”) and this area can be tricky because exaggeration shares a negative correlation with sincerity. When someone says “You’re seriously my favorite person ever,” all I do is wonder how many other people have received that same praise.

Then Buzzfeed articles start popping up with titles like “39 Reason Why Studying in Italy Ruins You For Life” -- a list comprised of disastrous things such as “because the Tuscan hills look like a dream” and “every seaside town is a paradise.” Next, we forget the literal meaning of literally, how to take ourselves seriously, and how totally overused totally is.

"Like, no joke, I’m literally starving."

As we consider options and count down to our next meal, we claim our state akin to those who don’t yet know the source or even the existence of theirs. The examples continue:

“The internet is so slow, I want to kill someone.”

“Honestly, I’m dying of thirst.”

“The line at the frozen yogurt place is ridiculous, like shoot me now.”

“This professor is the worst. "

Most recently their length has headed in the direction of our attention spans (shorter), delved in such ambiguity, we simply pick a one-line-fits-most phrase and don't even have to think about the context too much, which is good because we're busy texting someone else while in conversation:

"I can't"

"I'm dying"

"I'm dead"

These phrases aren’t used with ill-intent. They seem to be what people are saying so one day we find ourselves saying following suit. Hyperbole comes from the Greek word for excess. And as the consumers that many of us are, it’s easy to lose focus and become consumed by our own lives in which we are in need of very little not given to us but in want of much else. Desiring more for ourselves isn’t a bad thing but letting our language reflect a lack of gratuity can be dangerous because language shapes thoughts and thoughts shape actions. Reliability seems a small price to pay for relatability.

Meanwhile, these simple colloquialisms stretch the fabric of our credibility so far that the cloth can tear and double as a blindfold. We overstate to be understood. We delegitimize our own words and cast a shadow of doubt on ourselves until we’re literally lying alone, utterly shrouded in darkness, totally our own favorite people, and definitely starving for an accurate perspective of how good we have it.

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