Hyperbole. Enough, Already!

Look, I get it.


In this explosion of media and social networking, it takes a lot to stand out amongst the crowd. There are books and organizations solely dedicated to getting your product noticed. In fact, assisting in getting the word out is one of the reasons I’ve been employed since college.

But what I really want to know is…

Is your cupcake really the BEST cupcake ever baked?

Is that massage truly the GREATEST massage in the WHOLE WORLD?

Has that musical artist actually penned the MOST AMAZING song in the HISTORY OF TIME?

Aside from being rather boring statements, these claims are simply not fair, not measurable, and so full of hyperbole that I’m getting a little sick.

While the over-hyperbolic nature of status updates is a personal pet peeve, (like the people who post “BEST weekend EVERevery weekend), it is also a sticking point for me professionally when companies start to claim perfection without offering validation or reason. There are certainly products and services out there that do fly high above the rest. However, is it possible we’ve dumbed down our speech so much that we can’t come up with anything else to say outside of touting unfounded superiority?

How did we get here?

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure. I suspect it began in an earnest attempt to differentiate experiences that happened en masse, like sporting events, for example. “It was the fastest 80-yard run in the history of a morning game in late fall played in 60-degree weather east of the Mississippi.” Ridiculous? Yes. Hyperbole? No, actually. Just fact. A quirky and fun fact at that. The stat is specific, not claiming that the person who made that run is the BEST football player EVER. This also appears in television. “They are the first all-woman team to win in ‘Amazing Race’ history!” (Go, Kat & Nat!) Is that statement slightly bloated? True, they’re not making large strides for women’s rights — They’re not the first women to land on the moon. However, their mark is so specific that I know exactly what they’re measuring up against. If I care about “The Amazing Race” and it’s contestants, I will find this claim interesting and engaging.

To be interesting, we want to position ourselves in a light that is both news-worthy and celebratory. There is nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous it sounds to hear a sports announcer read out the latest stat or the TV show beat itself in its own game. However, it’s when we start to take things outside of that world that we begin to run into trouble. When we stop personalizing experiences, or properly positioning things, our statements start to give no valid basis to our declarations (e.g. “My kid is the cutest ever” vs. “I think my kid is the cutest.”) Immeasurable claims that rest on hyperbole are dull, flat and ineffective.

We’re smarter than that, aren’t we? I’d like to believe so.

For that reason, I’m challenging us to come up with a new way of claiming that this, that or the other thing really is the best. Get creative. Get strategic. It’s much more fun, and has the potential for greater impact as it cuts through the noise of every other company claiming they’re the “best.”

(Oh, and by the way, if you want to know where the best pizza I’ve ever had is made, or where I had the greatest beer, I’m more than willing to share.)

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