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Oh, the Hyperbole

This is an incredibly powerful blog. You will only describe it as amazing. It will astound you with its brilliance. It will blow your mind. It will change your life. If you have dreams it will make them come true. If you have pets it will make their dreams come true. After reading this blog you will be the smartest person in the room. Children will adore you. The most beautiful members of the opposite sex will swoon over you. Colleagues will hang on your every word. Sages will seek your advice. Reading this blog will absolutely become the single most important experience of your life.

Really?

If a tiny chunk of your last meal began to work its way up your gullet while reading this, congratulations; you recognize hyperbole when you see it.

Granted, the above blathering is an extreme example of hype, but my point is that too many people who should know better sling hyperbole around with astonishing (incredible! stunning!) cluelessness. And the clue these people have somehow missed is this: when you overuse powerful words, you take all the power out of them.

I know the seminar taught you to use forceful, positive words at all times in order to lead a forceful, positive life, but let’s face it: in the real world, few things are truly “amazing,” “incredible,” or “powerful.” And don’t even get me started on “awesome.” So when we don’t reserve the powerful words for the truly powerful, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to potently describe that which actually deserves it. The effective use of words is diminished for all who honor language as an essential tool of trade. By defaulting to hyperbole we invalidate our message and dishonor our audience by assailing them with words that we have rendered meaningless.

So, all of you copy writers, marketing directors, brand managers and bloggers out there, let’s take this vow:

I (insert your name here) promise to never imbed ingenuity into my communications.  I do this because I’m smart enough to know that authenticity and substance are of the greatest meaning and that the truest measure of my value as a communicator lies in the sanctity of the words I use. 

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