HYPERBOLE is a sometimes useful tool. It can illustrate worst-case scenarios, and it can sometimes help to identify arguments that are weak. Sometimes it even illustrate to another how one is feeling vs. their own rational reaction to circumstances. For those who don’t get it, here’s how it works:
Occasionally, I might forget to pick up my socks. My wife, who does the majority of the laundry, gets frustrated with having to go behind me to pick up smelly socks. So she may say something like, “I’m tired of always having to pick up after you. You never pick up your socks.” Obviously, she’s exaggerating for effect. Clearly, she doesn’t always have to pick up my socks, but her saying so lets me know that this (relatively) minor issue is important to her. When I respond to her, “You are always complaining. It’s like you have nothing better to do than whine to me about this. Seriously, nothing is more important than this?” I’m engaging in hyperbole because I don’t have anything better to come back with. Clearly, if picking up socks shouldn’t be a big deal for her, than it shouldn’t be a big deal for me either. But I’m being lazy at the time, and I figure I can get away with not doing something that is a minor inconvenience by continuing the argument. (BTW men, this is not a smart way to keep a healthy, happy relationship going. Proceed at your own risk. In other words, just pick up the socks, okay?)
When Barack Obama tells us that the economy is stronger because his policies have saved (?) or created a million jobs, this is also hyperbole. Well, that’s not quite fair. This is, in reality, a lie. First, there is no measure of “saving” a job, and in the case of creation, many of the jobs created turned out to not exist. But in the interest of fairness to the office of President, let’s just call it hyperbole.
Politicians on both sides of the aisle will use hyperbole to scare or intimidate people who don’t take the time to learn the facts on their own. Worse than this however, is the use of hyperbole by those who work for “news” companies. Fox has Sean Hannity and Bill O’reilly, CNN had Lou Dobbs, and MSNBC has Rachel Maddow, Keith Olberman, Ed Schultz, and a few other, minor players. The problem I have with them is that they pass themselves off as news people, and report half-truths, lies, and most importantly, hyperbole to uneducated and uninformed masses.
I went through all that for this:
I went through a sales pitch robed in a job interview. Without naming the company, I will say that they were really slick in presentation. They appealed to my interest because they talked about financial education. They positioned themselves as educators. They also talked a lot about me making a lot of money. Now, I’m not against making money, but that is hardly my primary focus when considering work. I can make a lot of money doing something that I don’t like for only so long before I start looking elsewhere.
What turned me off of them was their constant use of hyperbole to show how lucrative their company was. It immediately made any argument they had weaker. Ultimately, I walked out as they were offering me a “chance” to be part of their team.
Was this a missed opportunity? We’ll never know, but while I might not have the opportunity to work for their company, they also lost out on a true educator with my name, experience, and skills. All for use of hyperbole.