We “literally” don’t speak correctly

“I literally cannot do one more math problem or I will die.” Literally, as opposed to… figuratively? “I’m actually starving right now.” How starving are you? Perhaps you haven’t eaten in a couple hours? How does that compare to the experience of disintegrating from the inside out due to malnourishment? The excessive use of hyperbole in today’s language exaggerates conversations to the point of complete falsity.

Why do we feel the need to overemphasize every statement in a dramatic fashion? Many people try to impress others with an incredible story or draw attention to themselves and what they’re saying. These days, one has to completely amplify his or her expressions for words to have any weight, all at the price of losing the subtleties of vocabulary and conversation to swear words and the overly popular “literally,” “actually,” and “OMG.”

The first way to make a statement sound important is to preface it with “OMG.” This will immediately grab listeners’ attention and make them think what one is about to say is groundbreaking. But when it’s used with stupid commentary on someone’s outfit, “Oh, my God” loses a bit of value.

Sadly, it seems if phrases didn’t include an attention-grabbing word, they wouldn’t be heard. This accounts for the placement of swear words before adjectives. One couldn’t just say “I’m so tired.” It has to be “I’m so [insert swear word] tired” instead, just to make the point.

The linguistic habits of teens rapidly reduce their known vocabulary. Though there are more than 200,000 words in the English language, it seems that we would rather just stick to “I hate this, love this, or am obsessed with this.” When one says, “I love you,” does it even mean anything anymore after it’s been said about a pair of shoes, playing hockey, and a hot model all in the same day?

To take this further: saying one “is dying” of boredom or hunger really reduces the legitimacy of death, which happens to be quite a serious thing. It’s annoying to hear these phrases over and over again when they lack the proper meaning.

If one has to place “actually” before a sentence or story, what does that say about our perception of honesty? Are the majority of our stories blatant lies to one another, or just outrageous exaggerations? Our society of deception stems from our communication instincts to exaggerate claims until they become fiction.