Uncommon Sense: A Rose By Any Other Name

by Jeff Einstein,  Thursday, May 3, 2012 9:07 AM  MEDIA POST

Life in the digital 21st century is really a function of euphemizing  ourselves from cradle to grave.  Maybe that’s always been the case, but  today’s spinmeisters seem especially adroit at squeezing majesty from mendacity  (or mundacity) and snatching pyrrhic victory from the jaws of defeat.   Consider just a few of today’s better examples:


A friend used to be the recipient of your purest love. Nowadays, a friend is  someone to click on once and forget entirely, with no requisite love/hate  investment of any sort.  Thanks to Facebook, today’s friends are to  yesterday’s friends what yesterday’s dollar is to today’s two bits (on a good  day).

Don’t be surprised to see Mark Zuckerberg take over for Ben Bernanke at the  Federal Reserve (or vice versa) in the near future. They’re both in the same  business with the same cheap currency and the same borrowed slogan: eat all you  want, we’ll make more.

Quality Time

Quality time is a euphemism for no time at all, mostly because we spend all  of our time (quality or otherwise) attending to all of our time-saving digital  devices.

Relevance and Metrics

Digital marketers often use the word relevance in broad association with the word metrics. Of course, neither describes anything that actually works.   Rather, they describe things that can be sold, and are therefore, most  effective when used in the same sentence, as in:“We need a new suite of metrics  to ensure relevance.” Translation: “We can’t sell the old metrics anymore.”

That’s why everyone in online advertising is on the hunt now for a more  relevant metric to replace the CTR: apparently, no one can sell statistical  zero.  Usually, those marketers that use the word relevance as a metric to  describe ads are their own best customers: They’ll buy anything.  (Please  see Optimization and Performance below.)

Optimization and Performance

(Please see Relevance and Metrics above.)  Optimization and performance  are what we sell when nothing works at all, as in: “We need to optimize  congressional performance and the Boston Red Sox bullpen.”  Or, “The  ad campaign was optimized to elevate performance to statistical zero.”

Artificial Intelligence

AI is where we currently deposit all of our hopes for a better future through  digital technology — largely because we have no faith in our own intelligence  anymore (for obvious reasons).  But beware of false gods: As my brother  Mike says: “If my phone is so smart, why can’t I reach anyone with it?”

Communicate and Communications

There’s a reason why we never see the verb communicate in the same sentence  with the noun communications: No one can actually communicate in today’s world  of instant communications.  (Please see the smartphone reference under Artificial Intelligence above.)

Transparency and Accountability

Typically, those who demand the most transparency and accountability in  others are those who are least transparent and accountable themselves. Demands  for transparency and accountability are theatrically most effective as  congressional committee opportunities to display righteous indignation and shock in response to the sudden and inexplicable loss of billions of taxpayer dollars — most of which gets pumped back into political and special-interest campaigns  for more transparency and accountability.


I tossed this one into the mix because I suddenly see it everywhere.   For instance, the bread aisle of my supermarket now sells artisan baguettes. But it’s the same old baguette with a new artisan bag.   Meanwhile, Duncan Donuts is now running an ad campaign for artisan  bagels. Significantly, no one in the ads seems to know what the word  artisan means. I rest my case.

What are some of your favorite euphemisms for life and work in the digital  21st century?


About MZR

I am a middle aged man trying to be the best person I can become, make a positive difference in our world, while trying to make sense of my life's journey.
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