Hyperbole Or Not

I was having a discussion with a friend today about a paper I am writing on the credit crisis, and he suggested that I remove some of the "hyperbole" from my analysis. He was referring to recent statements by Soros and Krugman, who have both stated that the current crisis is the "worst since the Great Depression".

That got me to thinking that in communicating extreme events or ideas in general it is difficult to avoid sounding "hyberbolic" or far fetched when describing the conclusion or the idea because it is so far removed from the status quo of the audience.

A similar phenomena occurred in a discussion with some friends last night where I was explaining the power of Twitter in the context of idea generation, dissemination and socialization. Those who are barely using Facebook thought what I was saying was extreme, while a fellow "tech-minded" person thought what I was saying was highly reasonable.

Although this problem may be limited to people like me, who tend to think at the edges of our knowledge and technology, I actually think it is more likely a general concern for communicating new ideas generally: if you are far removed from the audiences' understanding, you should build a bridge to walk them to the island of your idea, or run the risk of sounding like a fanatic or dreamer.

I guess this presupposes a desire to be heard by a wide audience. Maybe it is just better to speak and let those who can hear your voice understand and let the rest think it is all hyperbole. Perhaps one day, when the story has unfolded, they might remember some glimmer of the idea and realize it wasn't so extreme after all.

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