Untrue. But does truth matter?
As one of the owners of Snopes.com told the New York Times recently, “When you’re looking at truth versus gossip, truth doesn’t stand a chance.”
I found that pronouncement amusing and heartening. But I think the biggest enemy of truth these days is not gossip, but gossip’s close buddy, hyperbole.
It used to be that people who didn’t like a restaurant complained that the food tasted like sawdust, the waitpersons were rude, and the patrons at the adjoining table carried on like frat boys.
Now citizen reviewers on Yelp proclaim that “this taco place ruined my life” and “I was, like, permanently traumatized by this sashimi.” People who leave comments on Amazon.com frequently assure us that a book is “the worst book, ever.”
From an editorial perspective, hyperbole is like acid — splash around too much of it around and it starts to eat away the ground you’re standing on.