WHY WE EXAGGERATE
My mind turned to the phenomena of exaggeration as I perused Goodreads. Imagine my surprise when I found the following posts:
LIFETIME BOOKS READ
If J. is 50 years old, he/she would have had to read 28 books a day each day of his/her life. L.’s is more manageable, having to read only 5 books a day every day of his/her life. Frankly, I’m having a hard time with these numbers.
As humans, we do exaggerate for a number of reasons. I confess to embellishing stories or facts to make my conversation more entertaining and to draw people’s attention. Otherwise, I would bore everyone to death.
Marie: I was so embarrassed, I thought I would die.
I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.
He scared the ever-living daylights out of me.
It’s as hot as hell outside.
He was drunker than Cooter Brown.
It’s colder than a well digger’s ass.
Sometimes we use it to compete with others.
Guy 1: I have a chop saw.
Guy 2: Me, too, but mine has a stand.
Gal 1: I talked to the cutest guy yesterday.
Gal 2: Well, I talked to four cute guys.
According to Dr. Deborah Tannen, guys do this fairly often. Listen to men speak. They enjoy one-upping each other.
Most individuals are in the middle of an arc that, at one end, contains people who are complete truth tellers. The other end belongs to the pathological liars. The factual individuals come off as rude or socially incompetent. Please, I don’t want anyone pointing out that I am fat.
While no clear-cut line exists between harmless hype and damaging exaggeration, we do need to monitor ourselves. Many an employee has been terminated for enhancing a resume, for instance. Furthermore, speaking with hyperbole runs the risk that people will be exasperated by what you say, misunderstand it, or take it at face value. Then, you’ll have to spend time correcting the record or explaining what you really meant.
Meanwhile, back to Goodreads. I am proud to announce I have met my book goal for 2020—a book a week. Thank you, COVID. And that’s no exaggeration!
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