Last week was action packed. With a 5.9 earthquake, the remnants of a hurricane, and the welcoming of 1,500+ freshmen to AU, there was plenty of excitement to go around. Unfortunately that excitement can easily become an unnecessary hype.
According to Webster’s, to hype is “to publicize extravagantly”.
My grandmother left me a message crying hysterically because she heard on the news that the District had a major earthquake. My experience was thirty seconds of moderate shaking and no fear whatsoever. The news reports seemed to be a little hyped.
Saturday afternoon, every grocery store was out of milk, water, and batteries. Rumors circulated that the city might be issued a curfew. Students were warned not to travel between dorm room floors. A bad tropical rainstorm was treated like an apocalyptic event. The local response seemed to be a little hyped.
As freshman flooded AU’s campus, they were told that through the next four years they are going to become “wonks” in their field. The word means to know forward and backward, to be an expert. The branding is a part of a new marketing campaign. How can four years of education- much of which is general and basic- make someone an expert? Furthermore, the marketing campaign makes it seem like students/alumni are proud to be called wonks when they actually hate the branding. Apparently, the university wonks don’t know their students forward and backward either. The campaign seems to be a little hyped.
At the end of the day, what advantage does a little hype have? Whether it is exaggerating weather or exaggerating wonkiness, what benefit does it have to extravagantly publicize anything? Couldn’t one just report the facts and allow the facts to speak for themselves? A 5.9 earthquake is still huge, a tropical storm is still devastating, and a four year education at a prestigious institute is still appealing and honorable.
Hype is absolutely unnecessary. Take the hurricane for example. I know that
the storm was tragic. I know that at the moment the death count is over
forty people, that hundreds of thousands are still without power, and
the cost of damage is in the billions of dollars. Those facts are startling and devastating on their own, and they don’t need any extravagant media hype to validate them.
But, Irene will be remembered in my area has the hurricane that wasn’t
instead of the storm that flooded the northeast because hype tends to ring
louder than the truth and when hype disappoints, the truth is sadly
Why am I mentioning this now? And why would I even put these three things in the same category? Well, funnily enough, I did find a cartoon linking the earthquake, the hurricane and wonk campaign….
Washington ExaminerAug 28, 2011
(The cartoon artist is an AU alumni whose work inspired the wonk campaign).
On a more serious note, through the odd combination of these things, I was personally reminded that hype has no advantage. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about life changing moments that rocked your world or tragic disasters that flooded your life or skills you have required over the years… regardless of the subject, there is no need to hype up the the truth. Your earthquakes still will be viewed as monumental, your storms will still be viewed as periods of immense distress, and your abilities and accomplishments will still be appreciated. But, if you choose to hype things up, when the truth is uncovered and the exaggerations are revealed, you end up losing more credibility than the attention you gained by being unnecessarily extravagant in the first place.