It’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “I’m ordering GrubHub for dinner,” “Uber just dropped me off”, or “I’m hiring a TaskRabbit”. When technology applications become more real and human than the restaurants they serve or the workers they employ, it becomes thorny. These apps not only provide a cheaper and more transparent consumer experience, but also turn workers into fully marketable subjects, devoid of a face, voice, name, union affiliation, etc. This ushers in a dangerous time for workers, whose precarious work and strange conditions have graduated them to the level of transhuman, granted the same agency, even grouped in the same lexical category, as a service objects, like Siri and Alexa.
Jean Baudrillard, in the years 1968 The system of objects, takes note of this change in the relationship between humans and objects. Around halfway through the book, he comes to the main idea that objects, due to their complexity and intercultural ubiquity, have become more complex and therefore more important than the humans who use them. In fact, the only role humans have left is to be the audience. for the object, to give the object the due it has earned:
In fact, a real revolution has taken place on a daily basis: objects have now become more complex than human behavior in relation to them. The objects are more and more differentiated – our gestures less and less… the objects are no longer surrounded by the theater of the gesture of which they were only the various roles; instead, their purposeful orientation almost made them actors in a global process in which man is only the role, or the spectator.
A sickly combination of human passivity, dumbing down culture, and prioritizing instant gratification has led to this mass fascination. It is not necessarily the individual’s fault to fall prey to this sleepwalking effect; it’s the fault of the corporations, who profit from the fact that people are getting dumber, fatter and lazier. There is a thread between hollow corporate language and a culture geared to the sensibilities of the upper middle class, whose tastes and habits of mind are all superficial, without substance. Here are some examples of situations where lazy and precious language leads to insidious results.
Kindergarten to Grade 12 teachers call their students “my children.” I’ve seen this on social media and in personal interactions. While it is ostensibly harmless for teachers to view their students as their “children”, it has negative implications. It allows the operation not to be controlled; would you drop your own child? No, you would do anything for them, like working more hours than you get paid, or spending your own money on supplies the administration should fund. It is also bad for children to witness the exploitation of their teacher as that person may be tired, overwhelmed or stressed. On another level, people shouldn’t work too hard if they aren’t paid enough. If a teacher works overtime for a pittance and swallows it because “she loves her children”, the children in question will see this exchange as normal, thus preventing class consciousness from seeping into the classroom. their psyche.
It is the same when owners or managers refer to their staff as “family”. Would you let your family down? No. So don’t take this vacation if that means Jen, your “working wife,” will have to take over. I would say the American TV show Office has done wonders for white collar workers to see themselves as family first, workers second. Ironically, the employment relationship is completely suppressed for bureaucratic workers where it is the only thing that exists in the case of temporary workers and temporary workers. Bureaucrats and pushers are managers and disseminators of culture. If they understand their role as workers under capitalism, that’s it. Show as Office remind them that they are all one family and that the mining boss is just an eccentric with a heart of gold.
Catherine Liu, the author of Accumulators of virtue: the case against the managerial professional class, notes other notable linguistic developments in the workplace. The practice of ‘radical empathy’ and diversity and inclusion training seminars has exploded over the past 10 years, particularly in the wake of the George Floyd murder and the 2020 BLM protests. The purpose of these seminars, books and lectures, Liu argues, is for the management and healing of emotions, reified affect, to supplant the experience and feeling of real emotions. Educational advisers, managers, and teachers all agree with these extraterrestrial practices. Empathy can’t really be taught in an academic setting; empathy comes from a place of knowledge, understanding, and awareness that the wealthiest class of people cannot fully identify with, if that means understanding the suffering of workers in concert. This is why the wealthier working class is so proud of their seminars on empathy and inclusion: they need to believe that they understand, that they are “doing the job”, that they are in. the fight.
It is difficult to argue about RHification language without involving almost everyone involved. Why have dogs become “doggos”? Sandos? Who benefits from Orwellian Newspeak? Who is injured? This shift in language could come from nothing more than the fact that we are ingesting more advertising than ever before and reading a lot less. Recognizing and naming the disturbing side effects of a culture carved out by the corporate elite is necessary to diagnose problems and realize that words matter, ideas matter and language matter.