You’ve heard it. You might even have said it. Comments like:
“Most overrated film ever.”
“She is such an underrated actor.”
“He’s so overrated.”
So we are talking about ratings. Jolly good! What system of rating are you discussing?
The metacritic score of a film? Terrific, that’s a real and commonly recognisable rating system! In this case, the comment has meaning!
Your perception of popularity among humans? Oh dear. This is what the comment tries and fails to express whenever no formal and recognisable system of rating applies; one is being appealed to for its authority. The problem is, that appeal is fictional and the authority non-existent. All that non-meaning packaged up into a one word implication. Impressive!
So what’s the problem with that?
The problem is not saying what we mean.
It’s a hazardous habit to practice! By stating an assumption that a formal and recognisable rating system exists for objectively measuring the subject’s value, use of the terms “overrated” and “underrated” tries and fails to frame the speaker’s subjective and personal opinion in an objectively measurable way.
That, friends, is what we call a “crap shoot”.
The behaviour achieves nothing more than the complete benefit denial of the conversation. Who wants that? Nobody!
Can we explore in more detail what the speaker may mean when using the word “underrated” or its opposite?
Here’s my interpretation of it with a logic breakdown. It’s perhaps not the only possible breakdown, but it’s the one I feel can be most broadly applied. Phraseology is based on how I typically think and communicate.
External conversational input: “Subject is underrated.”
Rated by what system?
If no system exists:
Rating = subjective value assessment?
The speaker has specified their subjective valuation as objective truth.
Red flag: Speaker has mistaken feelings for facts.
Can we define the speaker's “rating”?
Rating = subjective value assessment by others.
Deduction: “The subject is undervalued by others.”
Can we define “value” further?
Value = "Appreciation of the subject."
Deduction: The speaker is claiming “The subject is under-appreciated by others.”
Can we define “others” further?
Others = "All people who are not the speaker."
Deduction (assuming our speculative definitions apply): The speaker is claiming “All humans except myself do not appreciate the subject enough.”
Red flag: Speaker is specifying what others should feel!
Deduction: Speaker believes others' feelings to be erroneous.
Has the speaker stated a benefit offered by the subject that all other human beings are unaware of and therefore failing to appreciate?
Deduction: Speaker's intent is emotion-policing (rather than emotion-influencing).
Red flag: Speaker has demonstrated quite a hostile agenda.
New information required: Speaker’s agenda for the current interaction.
“What do you want to achieve in this conversation?”
“Do you aim to change my appreciation level on the subject?”
“Do you understand that selling benefits is your best shot at doing that, rather than appealing to a non existing rating system authority?”
New information desired: Speaker’s motivations.
“Do you want all other people to like the subject with more intensity?”
“Do you want more people to like the subject at all?”
“Do you want people to think about the subject more often?"
“Why do you want to modify others' appreciation level?”
“Why do you not trust others to feel how they want to feel about the subject?”
“Why should others not be free to like and dislike subjects as they please?”
The CONVERSATION LOGIC is slow to get through. Speaking is slow. Asking all those questions turns what was quite likely just a clumsily expressed feeling into an impromptu intent interview and analysis of the speaker. Not necessarily an effective use of your time.
Nevertheless! It’s useful to be aware of why garbage-grade phrasings like “overrated” and “underrated” are so worthless so that you can address them if and when you feel like doing so.
It’s not known what the effects long term effects are of allowing subjectivity to masquerade as objectivity in human communication. Maybe you’re fine with that. But now you have a perspective to help you spot it.
The way I feel about subjective issues being phrased in a faux-objective manner is that it’s the conversational equivalent of blowing smoke into someone else’s face; it’s unpleasant, wholly useless, and worst of all... it stinks!