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Recently, there has been a lot of talk about "the hate" in the video game community. Gamers are portrayed as being hateful, mean, sadistic bullies who wish death on those who don't share their opinions. Those who make this characterization of gamers often cite countless examples of hateful, mean, sadistic, bullying, death wishing comments as evidence; which, to be fair, does seem like pretty good evidence.
However, it is my contention that the vast majority of these sorts of comments, not just in the gaming community, but virtually everywhere online, are actually hyperbole, and that hyperbole is a perfectly acceptable way for someone to express themselves.
Just about everyone uses hyperbole all the time, and it's pretty much always recognized as being just that. You might hear someway say, "My wife is going to kill me if I don't remember to pick up milk on the way home," and you do not assume that that person's life is actually in any danger should they forget to pick up milk; nor do you take offense to the fact that they would even joke about something like that. For instance, you wouldn't respond to this person by saying, "Dude, you shouldn't joke about things like that. It's offensive to the families of real murder victims!" You would instead completely understand that the person only meant that their wife would be upset should they forget to pick up milk, and you would think that their saying that their wife would kill them was a perfectly fine way for them to express this sentiment.
So why is it that people, who seem perfectly capable of recognizing and understand hyperbole in most situations, suddenly fail to recognize it when someone they disagree with tells them to fall in front of a moving train? Why do they all of sudden react by saying things like, "You really want me to fall in front of a train just because I disagree with you? You're a terrible person. You literally want me to die just because I don't share your views. I'm so offended, and also morally superior to you!"? Why do people forget what hyperbole is in these situations?
The answer is that they don't. It is my belief that they do recognize the hyperbole in these situations, but are merely pretending not to understand it to villify the other person. In this case, it is actually the person claiming to take offense to the hyperbole who is being the asshole. They know that the other person doesn't actually wish any harm on them, but are pretending to think otherwise in order to make that person look bad. This is not a very nice thing to do, and, if you're someone who does do this, you should stop doing it.
This isn't a tactic that's exclusive to feminists, or Democrats, or Republicans, or Christians, or any particular group. I see people on all sides of pretty much every issue play this game. They pretend not to understand hyperbole when they think they can use it to demonize those they disagree with. Even people involved in the #GamerGate hashtag, which I largely agree with, are not above doing this. Devin Faraci, of Badass Digest, recently came under fire for saying that he has more respect for the terrorist organization, ISIS, than he has for the gamers who are being critical of Zoe Quinn. But no one actually believes that Devin Faraci genuinly thinks that gamers criticizing Quinn are literally worse than terrorists who are cutting people's heads off. Everyone understands that Faraci was using hyperbole. So let's not pretend we don't understand that.
Hyperbole is a very useful way of expressing certain ideas, sentiments, and opinions, and is an important part of language and commincation. Let's not ruin hyperbole just to portray those we dislike or disagree with as villains, or to serve our own vanity by pretending we're so much morally superior to those who have used hyperbole against us. And, if anyone still disagrees with me, please shoot yourself in the face.