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Texas Wisdom #56

“Pro-active.  That’s a new word they made up.  It means you’re s’posed to scratch yourself before you start to itch.  Dang.”

— Billy-Bob Gautama

By corwin

Site administrative account, so probably Corwin, Felix or DD-B.

0 replies on “Texas Wisdom #56”

Agh. One of the worst abuses of corporate consultantspeak from the 80s.

“Proactive” used to be a technical term of art in psychology with a very narrow meaning. But one day some damn fool decided it must be the laudable opposite of “reactive.”

You used to say someone took the initiative or, possibly, preempted. Indeed, for many common uses of “proactive”, the simpler and infinitely more legitimate word “active” really captures the meaning, but now this ugly word “proactive” is everywhere, and it always has a positive connotation.

Neologism is great; where would we be without “ecdysiast” or “copacetic”? But “proactive” is a word that should never have been born.

One of the worst abuses of corporate speak in recent times has been the word “solutions”.

“Welcome to insert company name here. We used to make widgets. Actually we still do. And nothing else. But now we are a complete customer lifestyle solutions company.”

My challenge for today is to use “copacetic” in an official correspondence.

Yeah, the “solutions” thing bugs me, too.

I still recall calling customer support for some utility company and being asked to hold for “relationship counselor.” No shit. You can imagine the conversation that ensued when I finally got one.

Oh dear. I better not tell you what industry I work in then! I can completely imagine tone and feeling of the dialogue.

We don’t have any relationship counselors. And hoping we never do!

Some years ago, a company called Force 3 ran a clever series of radio ads that parodied the growth of stupid neologisms. The one line that I recall ran this way: “Mission critical has nothing to do with software — mission critical is finding a bathroom when you need one.”

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