This post isn’t about legalizing or not legalizing marijuana, despite my choice of picture—that’s a topic that’s way off topic for this blog. Suffice it to say that I’m in favor of applying rational thought to our various concerns.
The reason I used this image is that it employs hyperbole. Many of us know enough about marijuana to know that it doesn’t cause “Insanity! Death!” And that reminded me of arguing with people on the internet.
I check in on Twitter every day. I probably check in on it a bit more than I really should. One notable thing about it is the same thing that is notable about other social platforms and discussion forums online. As well as much of our politics.
Over and over again, people resort to hyperbole. Overstating their various cases for effect— or, very often, on the assumption that the person who reads the hyperbole won’t investigate for themselves and might be fooled. People tell themselves that hyperbole serves a purpose, that it’s a good idea if the cause is good, and other nonsense like that. It has its moments when used for comedic effect, but when it’s presented as truth to deceive it’s a different matter.
The fact is that hyperbole backfires in the long run. Because it’s a lie, and people don’t like it when they discover they’ve been lied to. It’s easier than ever for people to find the facts for themselves since the internet became a big thing. Maybe it’s time to give hyperbole tactics a rest. Maybe it’s time to admit that persuading people with half-truths and overstatements and distortion may be part of the advertising arsenal that we’ve been culturally trained in, but they’re ultimately unproductive. They produce cynical and jaded minds.
Sometimes I feel pretty cynical myself, wading through the sea of propaganda that is a large part of the online (and offline) world.
And I’d rather not. So do it for me: calm down, and let the truth speak for itself.