George Parker is the perpetrator of adscam.typepad.com. Every week he shares his opinions on the advertising world with PSFK.
In my time, Ive heard enough corporate bullshit speak to sink the Bismarck (historical reference for the smart kids.) And the higher you go up the management chain of command, the worse it gets. This is true of all companies that unfailingly staff their upper echelons with the end products of the MBA sausage machine. It is however, particularly bad in the geekdom that thrives in the fertile soil of Silicon Valley. The first time someone in that part of the world said they could resonate to the stuff I was showing in a presentation, I had no idea what he meant. When I finally realized he meant that he liked it, I was tempted to ask him why the fuck he didnt say so in plain English. But, as this was a new business presentation, I wisely decided to keep my pie hole shut.
I mean now that everyone is holistic, synergistic and going through paradigm shifts whilst being on the bleeding edge, its no wonder we are all at the tipping point of a Web 3.0 social media Cluetrain. Thats why no one gets fired these days, they get downsized, and outsourced, or as Air New Zealand recently announced, they would be disestablishing up to 100 long-haul cabin crew positions. And even if people dont get fired, they are invited to take a furlough, which means they are still on the payroll, they just dont get paid.
But then if you are a solid team player, you have to talk shit and make it sound like pure gold. As the chief executive of Dow Chemical recently said, when talking to analysts about various choices facing the company: We have significant optionality! Yes indeed, I can resonate to that. Sounds like something I once read in The Harvard Business Review.
But all of this is now creeping into every day speech. When I was last in California, I was driving up route 280 to San Francisco, listening on the radio to Joe Shmo doing the traffic report from Chopper Twelve, when he announced There is an extra-heavy, vehicular loading situation on the Bay Bridge. Which obviously meant there was lots of traffic. So, why the hell couldnt he say that?
The bastardization of speech is nothing new, its been going on since Shakespeare invented half the English language, it just seems to be happening faster, obviously because of technology and the use of tools that dictate the truncation of words into some digital cacophony. Yes, you Twittering texting freaks, Im talking to you. But perhaps the saddest part of all this is that people are increasingly crucifying the language to say less and less of importance.
Perhaps it can best be summed up in the words of Lord Sebastian Coe, the former Olympic Gold Medalist who headed up the team that won the 2012 games for London, and incidentally approved one of the worlds worst logos for the event As he says in his soporific autobiography The Winning Mind: There are times when there is a need to dig deep and find another gear while never losing sight of the bigger picture. In classic bullshit speak, this allows his Lordship to sound erudite, while actually saying bugger all. Welcome to modern English 101.
George Parker is a guest columnist for psfk.com. He is the perpetrator of adscam.typepad.com, which is without doubt, one of the most foul and annoying, piss & vinegar ad blogs on the planet. He is the author of MadScam and his new book, The Ubiquitous Persuaders, which is currently setting the ether ablaze (and which you can order now on Amazon). He will continue to relentlessly promote the crap out of it until you are forced to stab yourself in the eyes with knitting needles.