Day-to-day description of things, events and experiences often fails to exhibit elements of restraint, nuance or gradient. How many times have you heard the words “unbelievable”, “incredible” or “awesome” applied to pretty routine examples of stuff like food recipes, pop songs, movies or concerts? Plenty, I’ll bet. (I had to restrain myself not to say, “millions of times”.)
It might sound curmudgeonly or pedantic to point out the dictionary meaning of the term “incredible” is “so extraordinary as to seem impossible”. Yet that word is routinely applied to the most mundane of things that are spectacularly un-extraordinary.
Alright, so what? What’s the harm in being overly flowery with description? Well, for one, it devalues the currency of description. The truly extraordinary has nowhere to turn for desriptors.
The other implication from exaggerating favorable press is my suspicion that anything that doesn’t merit the “big good” rating, is relegated to the scrapheap as “total crap” (and its facsimiles). For me anyway, the hyperbolic individual is mostly not a useful source of information and credible opinion, lacking a capacity for thoughtful discrimination.
Language excess can get dangerous and socially disruptive when individuals whose sole failing is to disagree with someone’s point of view or beliefs are labeled “fascist”, “criminal” or “psychopathic”. If you think that’s hyperbolic, witness some of the rhetoric surrounding the current climate change issue.
“Just OK”, anyone?