Updated: Feb 12
In the world of efficiency and production, we often think of individuals as units of production.
Take corporate settings as a primary example; people are referenced as human “capital,” and described using system and machine-based vernacular.
Not a criticism by any means, I celebrate the literary artistry involved in describing life with elements of the tech and digital innovations that surround us. All to say, we have unwittingly reduced our lived experiences to systems, processes, and data glitches as a result.
Without intention, and as a byproduct of our tech-influenced analogies, we have adopted language that is scrubbing away at the essence of what makes us human.
That’s a tad hyperbolic, no?
It might seem like an exaggeration, but I challenge you to reflect on the language that you use to communicate your lived experiences. If you’ve ever described yourself as being on “auto-pilot,” that counts towards my point-of-view.
Rather than seeing ourselves through an existential lens, we are slowly adopting this “biological automaton” self-perception. Our very human experiences and general “raison d’être,” barely translates beyond our sensory experiences, or should I say, sensory input.
The school of linguistics speaks to the fact that language generally evolves with the technologies of the era. New technologies and innovations interweave into our figures of speech and playing into the tongue-in-cheek idiomatic expressions. Language also informs what we value and what we don’t. Sometimes what loses value is implicit rather than explicit, and is felt rather than spoken.
While I understand that in the work environment I am a valuable “resource.” A unit, headcount, staff, employee ID, unique identifier, you take your choice, we use any word other than human, individual, or person. Our language dehumanizes us to make the tough decisions easier to make. The tragedy in all of this is that subconsciously, our language creates perceptual distortions, and we begin to dehumanize ourselves inside and outside the office.
Don’t believe me?
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