“Extravagant exaggeration”? In this day and age where EVERYTHING is overly dramatic? Nah, never! Not in a million years. But, just in case it could be true that we are living a life filled with Hyperboles nowadays more than ever, let’s take a little look-see at what it all means.
According to examples.yourdictionary.com, a hyperbole is the opposite of an understatement. Examples given were things like, “I am so hungry, I could eat a horse”, “I had a ton of homework”, “You could have knocked me over with a feather”, and my personal favourite, “I had to walk 15 miles to school in the snow, uphill”. My guess is that hyperboles have been around since the beginning of time, but I feel like the exaggerations, similar to the ones I just quoted, were at least rooted in some form of truth back in the day, unlike the ones our internet speak has unfolded such as, “OMG, I’m literally dying!”.
My parents grew up in the 1940’s and 1950’s, and I know from many of their personal truths that sayings such as, “I am so hungry….” and “I had to walk 15 miles..” were in fact half-truths, if not more. Both my mom and dad lived on farms and their families were quite poor, such that they “didn’t have two cents to rub together”. There were times for each of them wherein I am sure that they could have eaten one of their horses because they were just that hungry, and it was indeed true that they had to walk miles (maybe not 15 exactly) in the cold and snow to school (not sure whether or not it was uphill), often with improper footwear. Their reality was so much different from the, “OMG, I’m dying here” expressions used at the thought of something funny or exciting happening. While, as a youngster, I used to mock my parents for their ‘uphill in the snow’ stories having not fully understood their struggles, today’s generation of OMG’ers knows nothing of those sorts of realities. Not in the way that past generations have, anyway. Now, that’s not to say that people don’t have their challenges these days, as they certainly do, but I wonder if the hyperboles of times past will soon become extinct. Will children of the western world understand what it means to have ‘walked uphill for miles in the snow’? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know, but I can tell you that having heard my parents’ personal accounts of tough times has certainly instilled a sense of gratefulness for the many privileges that I have had in my life thus far. I haven’t ever had to go hungry, or worry about literally freezing my toes off, or work to the point of ‘blood, sweat and tears’, and that is because of the many efforts and personal sacrifices of my mom, dad and others to create a better life for us.
Upon reflection, as I write this, maybe we should be grateful that today’s hyperboles are bourne out of more superficial circumstances, as opposed to partial truths, as was the case for many folks fifty and sixty years ago. Maybe it is a good sign of the times that kids are saying, “I will just die, if I can’t have that new game” instead of, “I am so hungry, I could eat a horse.” I just hope that our young ones realize the gifts that bestow them, especially as we look at commemorating Remembrance/Veteran’s Day in a few days time. I know that I certainly feel fortunate that I can drive to work in a heated, comfortable vehicle, that I can open the fridge door and choose what I would like to eat, and that I won’t actually ‘die’ upon hearing a good news item. But…I do have a MILLION other things that I need to do today, so I best sign off for now and get at them. And, that’s no exaggeration, my friends;-).