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Sensationalism.

February 23, 2008

Phrases like “I just had the craziest adventure ever” or similar phrases

NT’s seem to use such phraseology for sensationalistic purposes. Perhaps they relish the drama and urgency of their message that is implied by such combinations of words. But to say the “craziest” or “weirdest” or any-other-adjective-that-could-be-made-sensationalised-by-adding-a-

three-letter-ending -est, or even “best” or “worst” or most or least whatever…..followed of course by the topic being discussed at the time, is not really an accurate description of the events, because invariably the speaker(s) will come up with something more blank than blank……meaning something crazier, weirder, better, worse, etc., than whatever he or she had said initially was the craziest, weirdest, you get the point. Such wording really implies absolutes, because what is crazier than the craziest idea? Nothing.

Everyone, or almost everyone, is “guilty”, if that’s even the right word to use, of sensationalising something or other at some point in their lives. That in and of itself does not make a person weak in character, in desperate need of attention, or anything like that. It’s probably just human nature, to an extent, to exaggerate things and make them a bigger deal than they really are, or to make them seem “larger than life.”

We have certainly described events in our life using this kind of exaggerated speech, numerous times. And we’ll probably do it several more times.

The main problem with sensationalism is sensationalism for its own sake; for the purpose of getting attention. The media is often guilty of doing just that, in order to ensure viewership and roll in the dough, because alot of people are fascinated by “the extreme.”

Why does sensationalism sell so much in the first place? What is it about extreme or very bizarre scenarios that turn people on? It is purely biology, or is it purely environmental? We believe it’s a combination of both, but we wonder how the equation can be changed so that people aren’t always hooked to the extreme, and so the media doesn’t fill our minds’ plates with serving after serving of extremes. People already have become desensitized to true tragedies by constantly viewing contrived extreme scenarios.

It’s time for sanity to make a comeback.

Collaboration of Ivan and The Integral

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2 comments

  1. Hi, thanks for stopping by my blog! I agree that sensationalism is intended mainly to get attention. The idea seems to be that if you don’t do something extreme to get people’s attention, they won’t even notice what you are trying to say. I just wrote a post about sensationalism in the context of autism charities and their advertising:

    Outcomes


  2. “Best” actually bugs me less than “better” (in, say, a TV commercial) because “best” implies a comparison: if it’s the best, then it’s better than everything. When advertisements or people use a word like “better” but don’t give an object of comparison (better than what?), it drives me up the wall. Maybe that’s why people use the superlative so much: we’re lazy! If it’s the whateverEST, we don’t have to say what we’re comparing it to!

    Just a theory. 🙂

    Zoe



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