HINKAMP: Hyperbolic Overkill

I have experienced optimism in my life. I have driven a 1967 Volkswagen van across the desert without a tow chain or a tool kit; I have embarked on home improvement projects without first getting a tetanus shot and I occasionally buy a frozen pizza in the hopes that someday it one will actually taste like a pizza. I think that the reason that the world, in general and I specifically encourage cynicism is that we are surrounded by hyperbole. Look no further than the egg section of the local supermarket. It is a microcosm of the state of the world. I know, usually the only time you see the word "microcosm" it is in conjunction with football, but trust me, eggs make more sense than football. There are no longer small, medium and large eggs. The choices are Large, Extra Large and Jumbo. I'm sure that this is more of a pain to the laying hens of the world than it is a decision making puzzle to me. However, if I use a recipe book written in the 70's, does one "large egg" really equate to one Jumbo egg in today's hyperbole society. Hyperbole goes beyond my little chicken embryo microcosm. Hyperbole is everywhere. You can no longer get a small, medium or large soft drink at a convenience store. What you have to choose from are Big Gulps, Super Big Gulps, Double Gulps and the "You'll-Need-A- Lifeguard-for-this-One Gulp." Every offer is "special," every movie is a "feature" and I'm now convinced in reincarnation due to all the "once in a lifetime" offers that keep reappearing in my mailbox. Everybody has a friend for whom every concert, meal and party is "the best I've ever been to." After a while this person's opinion loses value. The world is becoming like that. Everything has an extra large special limited time Jumbo spin on it. Seventy-two year old Bob Dole has a team of consultants trying to make him sound "young." Bill Clinton has a team of consultants trying make him sound "not guilty." If I really want a dose of optimism and hyperbole, though, all I have to do is read the local real estate ads and wedding announcements. These are usually written by people whom you know and usually trust. Anyone who thinks there is a cavernous gap between mortals and god-like perfection should read these also. Writing your own wedding announcement and real estate ads are the times when we are most nearly struck by celestial rays of perfection. Wishful thinking or hyperbole gone tragically wrong? Who are the people who can write with a straight face "great starter home for only $99,999" or "rustic charmer $125,000?" It just seems for that kind of money you ought to get "the last mortgage you'll ever need" or "if the payments don't kill you the neighbors will" sort of truth in advertising. You feel like asking the people selling the house "exactly where to you go after a starter house? ...a finishing house?, a terminal house?...perhaps a Jumbo rustic charmer?" Who are the people who have to guts to talk about "eternal vows " followed by "registered at Everton's Hardware and Smithfield Implement?" Nothing quite like insuring connubial bliss with a reciprocating saw and weed whacker, I guess. They'll need some things to fill up that starter home.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Close

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.