Wednesday, September 2, 2020
There exists a fine line between hyperbole and lying. Hyperbole refers to making exaggerated claims not meant to be taken literally while lying speaks to making outright false statements. All of us are hyperbolic at times: "I flew down the hall" or "I felt like my head was going to explode." It is part of human nature to exaggerate to make a point or to add color to our stories or descriptions of our activities and actions. Think of all the writers, including poets, who use hyperbole to paint vivid portraits of characters and scenes that occur within their stories. The better able a writer is at this, generally, the greater respect readers have for him or her. Such praise also goes out to persons who with their verbal skills are proficient at this as well. Unfortunately, in one's efforts to be as good at hyperbole as possible, they sometimes cross that dangerous line into lying. The one side of the line is acceptable while the other is not. This is particularly dangerous when one is as good at communicating falsehoods as they are at exaggerating. Such a person is a true danger to others because one never knows how honest this person is being because they are so good at mixing exaggeration with falsified information. Particulalry for those on the receiving end of these dangerous communicators,the challenging of differentiating between the two is not easy. What, then, is the best defense against a person who easily floats back and forth between exaggeration and lying? For starters, as much as possible one must have a firm grasp of facts, particularly as they apply to what is being communicated to them. It is one thing to be a generous listener and give others license to exaggerate. But it is quite another to be steadfast in refusing to accept lies from others. The world is full of dangerous communicators. Consequently, we must all do our best to guard against them. It is a matter of protecting ourselves as well as communication itself.