Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Science of Millions

The ability to communicate is what makes us human. We are separate from other animals in many ways, but at the most fundamental level, the ability to communicate in a complex way is the defining difference. The inability to toss ideas, tell stories, and scheme with others is what prevents squirrels from laying elaborate traps to catch and reap horrible vengeance on automobiles across the country. Our ability to do this has evolved over centuries. At first, it was rudimentary: Me, You, Food, Stick etc. But through centuries grammar and vocabulary increased in complexity until it peaked at around the Roman Empire's Latin and its contemporary languages (Greek, the Asian root of Chinese and Japanese, and probably some ancient Mayan language that I am not well educated on).

It has been my observation, that since then, language has done nothing but move sideways. The different languages have simply branched out on the same plain as these ancient languages, not increasing in complexity so much as increasing in specificity: minute points became amplified and eventually took on a form of their own. This is all similar to the evolution of organisms which is why saying certain things are "more evolved" or humans are the "most evolved" is insane but another topic entirely.

This is a very roundabout way to get to my point. It seems that today(present times), English has been amplified in one specific area: Amplification itself. Hyperbole. Everyone I know hyperbolizes everything (yes, this statement is intentionally hyperbolic, thank you). If I was in an auditorium with ten thousand people or at a party in a small room with fifty people: each place contained exactly one million people when I tell stories about them. The couch my friends and I carried from the car to the house and the person who jumps unexpectedly on my back both weigh approximately ten tons. The commercial I just saw was the WORST commercial in history; as was your idea about where we should eat today. If my Dad, and generally any person over the age of forty, has retain any of the dialect from their generation then this is a recent phenomenon because these people rarely hyperbolize.


Why do we hyperbolize now? One might say it is because everything is getting bigger. Bigger cars, bigger explosions, bigger houses, bigger problems, bigger sports stars (thank you B12). The internet has brought the power of infinity to our fingertips and with it our language must follow: To infinity and beyond says Buzz Lightyear. Infinity is not good enough for children of our generation, we must go beyond. This has nothing to do with the number of people at the party or the actual weight of the couch, it is a subconscious effect of the ever expanding knowledge of our generation.

Logical. No?

I think there might be a different reason. Our dreams have exceeded our ability. Our reach has exceeded our grasp (to illicit an old cliche). Since youth we were told we can be anything; do anything; go anywhere. The internet, movies, TV, our parents, school, they all tell us of the possibilities open too us as long as we try. But as we progress in life we realize that this isn't true. We quickly lose our dreams of becoming a baseball start when we can't throw the ball over homeplate from ten feet away. We slowly let go of the dream of becoming an astronaut when we see that we have a dizzying fear of heights. People who are unable to let go of these dreams are the people we see on shows like American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance: They are forever told they can be whatever they want and so they fruitlessly and pathetically pursue the dream of becoming a singer or a dancer when they have no talent at all. We laugh when we see them, but sometimes I am sad, another dream will become unfulfilled and this person's hidden talent will undoubtedly be wasted.

When we realize our dreams of impossibility are gone, we must make up for them somewhere. And we do this in our storytelling. A million people participated in the party I was at the other day. I was able to carry a ten ton couch for half a football field. I was there when the worst statement ever made was uttered. Any task we will undergo will be the worst, the vacation we go on will be the best, and you went on a date with the hottest girl I have ever seen.

This could be a seen as something terribly sad. We make up for our own inability to become what we want and to do the impossible by pretending. We fool ourselves into thinking the hyperbole is real ( in my imagination the party with 50 people is packed wall to wall), and since memory is all we have, it will become that when anyone who was there to refute your statement is gone.

I like to think of it in a better light though. It makes our stories more potent, their morals more poignant, and it keeps our minds fresh with the idea of the impossible.

And yes: This WAS the longest blog post ever, if thats what you are thinking.

1 comment:

Costibizzle said...

This is the dumbest blog I've ever read, written by the most handsome person I've ever met.

Both of these go beyond hyperboles into outright lies.