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Buzzwords: The tomb of language

Words are inert. They are sound waves that travel from our vocal cords until they impact the ears of those who listen to us. If they’re written, they’re just ink stains on paper, or flickering pixels on a screen. They are the best artifice that we have come up with as human beings to try to escape from this prison in which we are all born: Our mind.

Some of those words take on a different status. New words or words regurgitated by popular culture that amaze while attract. In the technological field, business meetings like the following, between product owners and salespeople eager to close a sale, are not strange:

  • Wooow, the presentation is great, I liked the visuals, what did you call it?
  • Yes yes, the metaverse look on the platform is to give it a web 3.0 touch, what do you think?
  • I like it, I like it, metaverse, it’s like the new hype, isn’t it?
  • Exactly – The commercial licks his mustache before the emotion of a sale.
  • Hey hey, but – interrupts one of the marketers – how are you going to do give him validity to the platform certificates eh?
  • Uff, your question is great, look, each certificate is uploaded to a blockchain, a token is minted and with that we maintain decentralized control of the certificates.
  • Like bitcoin type?
  • That’s right!
  • Excellent! Hey and do you have any influencers for promotion?
  • Several. We are specialists for your target, check out the KPIs of our last intervention – It shows a sheet with so much information that it cannot be questioned – We analyze everything with AI for a better result.
  • Woow, well, I think that those go no matter what, they would add a lot of life time value to our interactions. Can you send me the presentation please?
  • It’s in the cloud, I’ll send you the link via whatsapp.
  • Great!

Everyone ends the meeting proud, exalted and feeling part of the new era, bathed in the glory of being at the forefront of their tasks. But, most likely, the understanding of each of the words is very poor. In fact, they convert (pervert?) them into simple formulas, compressed pills to just swallow and enjoy, and the task of “selling” is reduced to that of a magician: Playing tricks with words to deceive the interlocutor, a blockchain here , a metaverse over there and a web 3.0 comes out of the hat.

The concepts behind these words exist. They are real and many times they are the result of decades of work that elevate human knowledge to new levels. But there are those who see in them the yellow path towards easy conviction and the mirage of a “in trend” service.

Octavio Paz used to say that “when a society becomes corrupted, language is the first thing that becomes gangrene” (1), and I don’t know if our society is already corrupted, but our language is already beginning to have a stench worthy of the morgue.

The famous “inclusive language” is another example of this putrefaction of words. In that same presentation (because yes, what you read above it’s an anecdote, not fiction), phrases such as the following came up:

  • Latinxs will achieve the goal!
  • People who menstruate, you are all welcome…

Perhaps to the inexperienced viewer (and many “experts” too, I’m afraid) this desecration of language could pass as a positive force in the universe to include everyone however In that same meeting (which I repeat, it did happen) phrases such as the following were also given:

  • “That’s right, VIP access are for policemen” <<Assuming that they are all men, “Police officers” would be better>>
  • “Sure, I’ll instruct the registration girls” <<Assuming the gender of all collaborators at the registration. The correct thing would be to say “The registration staff”>>

However, these last sentences do not raise fuss, claims or praise, they go unnoticed even by those wrapped in the banner of inclusion. One more artifice to achieve the sale.

And I do not mean not to adapt, mutate and transmute the words for the new era, but to respect their form and their meaning, without wielding them as simple magic wands. The words matter. I know it sounds like an old grandpa’s claim, but it’s true. Let’s take care of the words, let’s not reduce them to the category of magician cards, let’s use only the ones that are needed and our results will be accurate. Let’s listen for once to our inner grandpas. They, the words, are the only thing we have to escape from the labyrinth of solitude that is our mind, and perhaps transcend, or at least dignify our work as much as possible.

(1) Paz, O. (1979). El laberinto de la soledad (2a. ed. –7ma. reimp. –.). México: Fondo de Cultura Económica.

Software Engineer and psychologist, founder and CEO of Inflexion Software.

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