The Jets are out, the Steelers are in. The Green Bay Packers ousted the Chicago Bears. And now we'll be subjected to weeks of adrenaline-pumping adjectives – a trend that has spread to politics and media, corroding our discourse.
Americans have become addicted to superlatives. We seem to need our regular “hyperbole fixes” as if to validate our own existence. This national syndrome becomes most egregious during the run-up to the “Super Bowl,” a football game that more often than not turns out to be the “ho-hum” bowl.
But to the attuned ear, this pumped-up hype routinely infects most of our conversations. This exaggeration is not the exclusive province of the magpies of sports talk. In a broader sense, some of these embellishments carry with them a subtle but undeniable element of dishonesty.
The news media is perhaps most culpable in promoting our obsession with overstatement. Consider last November’s midterm elections. Television’s political pundits portrayed the results as a “landslide victory” for Republicans and a rejection of President Obama. While it’s true that the GOP picked up 63 seats, the “massive win” becomes a slim plurality when you crunch the numbers.
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