There are an awful lot of reckless promises being made about web content these days. Hyperbole is rampant. You know what “hyperbole” means; “exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.”

Jaw Dropping Hyperbole
Jaw Dropping Hyperbole. Do not try this at home.

When you go to blog sites like BuzzFeed, Bored Panda, Distractify, Wimp, and probably the worst offender, Viral Nova, headlines promise that when you see such and such “jaw dropping” content, it will “drop your jaw,” or “your jaw will hit the floor,” or “it will have your jaw on the ground.”

Hair fire
Jaw dropping hair fire.

Come on people, this has become such an overused cliché by now it’s irritating. Can’t you come up with some other image? Maybe like even, make one up? Whoa, now that’s a novel idea. Do something creative.

You know what the whole idea is; something surprises, shocks, or amazes you and you gape at it, stare with your mouth wide open. Like the time your drunken sister accidentally leaned into a birthday candle and set her hair on fire. It takes a second to register what’s happening before you can speak or act. At the end of the jaw dropping, there is the inevitable “uh uh” before you can pronounce “fire.”

Now with creepier content you’re promised it “will keep you up at night. . .

I’d like to suggest some alternatives. See if you can come up with some of your own. “Your jaw will unhinge from your skull paralyzing your face.” That’s a cartoonish image. Or: “This will leave you drooling like a Saint Bernard in a Turkish bath.” And no, they don’t even have to make sense.

Now with creepier content you’re promised it “will keep you up at night,” “you won’t be able to sleep tonight,” “you’ll never sleep again,” or “it’ll send chills up your spine.” Now I don’t gravitate to creepy stuff, but that said, nothing I’ve seen on the Internet has ever kept me up at night, all night, or sent chills up my spine.

Here’s an alternative, “It will scare you so badly you’ll shit blood through your pants. Or “You’ll be so terrified all the protein in your body will congeal.” Now, that’s scary.

Seriously, nothing I’ve ever seen in web content has done any version of this to me. . .

Okay, then we have these kinds of reactions; “you’ll be left speechless,” “it will blow you way,” it will blow/break/shatter your mind, “you’ll freak,” or “it will freak you out.” Seriously, nothing I’ve ever seen in web content has done any version of this to me, but that’s the nature of hyperbole. The problem is these are overused as well.

How about this as an alternative: “You’ll have a psychotic episode that results in you murdering several people with a hammer.” Huh? How ‘bout that? That certainly ups the stakes. Now we’re talking mind blowing. Or how about: “You’ll eat a bag of nails.”

Then there’s the bleeding heart stuff. You are promised that when you view the content in question you will find it “heartbreaking,” “it will break your heart,” “it broke my heart,” “my heart stopped,” “it will melt your heart,” “making hearts explode,” “leaves you crying,” “leave you in tears,” “my heart was exploding,” “you’ll melt,” “left me sobbing,” “you’ll be sobbing,” and my favorite, “resulted in a lot of people being a sobbing mess.”

Video 52 seconds: Hyperbolic Sobbing. Worth waiting till the end.

Uh, okay, maybe there are people who have these kinds of reactions to things. I guess it’s possible, but I’m more inclined to think it’s hyperbole for “made you a little sad.” Unless you’re seeking out some pretty sadistic stuff, but if you were it probably wouldn’t sadden you. In any case this kind of shit is so prevalent it makes me want to “throw myself off a bridge,” or maybe “run out into freeway traffic,” or “swallow my own face.”

Worse, in almost every case it turns out to be false.

Now a word I don’t use at all is “hilarious.” That word is so violently overused it’s useless. Worse, in almost every case it turns out to be false. I see something described as hilarious I’ve been disappointed so many times I immediately assume it’s probably less than mildly amusing. Hyperbolic versions for funny: “Will have you laughing all day,” “I can’t stop laughing,” “you will scream with laughter,” “it’s hysterical,” “you’ll go into hysterics.” Tired, people. And weak.

puking internal organs
Looks like this guy is really laughing hard!

Instead, how about: “You’ll laugh until you puke out internal organs.” Or try “You’ll laugh so hard your brain will hemorrhage out through your ears.”

Enraged head smashed through wall.
Really angry…

Of course then there’s content that will make you really really mad. So mad, they tell you “You’ll tear your hair out,” “your blood will boil,” “it will make you livid,” “it will enrage you.” Hey kids, we can do better than that, can’t we?

What can we do with this one? This will make you angry enough “you’ll clench your teeth so hard they’ll explode into powder.” Or, how about “You’ll smash your head into the asphalt repeatedly until you lose consciousness,” or, as sometimes happens: “You’ll punch a hole through the wall with your bloody fists and see your neighbors calling the police.”

See how easy it is? Okay, maybe they’re not all gems, but I’m just trying to encourage you to come up with your own.

Don’t be shy, folks, be hyperbolic!!!

M. Nick

This article was originally published February 28, 2016, © 2016 by M. Nick