In this twenty first century, capitalism – enabled by the fibre-optic revolution, accelerated by political regression, expanded by global markets – has penetrated our daily lives to extraordinary depths, transforming social practises wherever it goes. It has implanted itself even into language, supplanting what was once conceptual language for what now may be denominated corporate language.
A word, traditionally, is a symbol, a concept signalling an object. I say the word telephone, for instance, and in your head appears an image of said concept. I say the word iPhone, however, and in your head appears a product, followed perhaps by a company, an executive, a logo. The difference is minute, but the ingenious addition of the letter i to the word phone meant a world of difference for the fortunes of its creators.
Likewise, if once we drank coffee, now we might drink a Nespresso. This corporatisation of language, of course, begun long ago, with such linguistic inventions as Band-aid replacing bandage, Panadol doing away with paracetamol, or a Kleenex substituting a tissue or panuelo in some parts of the Latin American world. But now it seems the march of this logo-language has accelerated, brought on by the digital upheaval of recent years.
When you are in bed with Amazon, doting on Apple, staring deeply into the eyes of HBO, you know something has gone wrong for language but terribly right for corporations, having achieved that we voluntarily advertise and market their products with our very words
If once upon a time we used maps, now we check google maps, and while some still listen to music, others listen to Spotify. Watching TV, has been replaced by a night in watching Netflix, just as catching a taxi is now grabbing an Uber. “Send me a Whatsapp” we now might say, meaning to say “send me a message”. Air B&B has rendered archaic the term bed and breakfast. A non-sensical question such as “where are my Ray Bans?” makes sense to most modern homo sapiens, and few would raise an eyebrow of confusion if I were to say “I love my Birkenstocks”.
The list grows and grows. “I need to fix my Mac” translates to “I need to fix my computer” and a night in with a good book has become a night in with Kindle. When you are in bed with Amazon, doting on Apple, staring deeply into the eyes of HBO, you know something has gone wrong for language but terribly right for corporations, having achieved that we voluntarily advertise and market their products with our very words.
The Ego-lobilisation Index
The rate of use of this new corporate language may be taken as a measure of one’s self-globalisation, of one’s ego’s integration into twenty-first century culture and lifestyle. This is what is called the Ego-lobilisation Index, the world’s most respected scale for identification of one’s pop cultural savviness.
If you use ten of the above words on a daily basis then you may give yourself a score of 10 – and you may classify yourself as Silicon Valley Globalised. Should the popularly-denominated Globometer award you with such a classification, you will probably be, if I may venture, a gilded youth, sun-glassed and waiting in line at the latest funky new food truck in town as you check to see if your potential Tinder mate has responded positively to your sexual overtures.
If you do not use any one of the above words on a daily basis and thus score a 0 on the Ego-lobilisation Scale, and the colloquially-known-as Egolobulator will recognise you as forming part of what is deemed the The Modern Noble Savage. You may, perhaps, be my neighbour Alfonso, checked cap on your sparsely-haired head and tanned patches on your elbows, up to date on the latest meteorological phenomena in town, happily unaware of the existence of quinoa or yoga.
Probably the majority of the readers will score somewhere between 3 and 6 on what is often called amongst its disciples the Egolobilisationator, thus classifiable as Potential Market Share, stuck, as we are, between what is deemed as the old and the new – between our language constructed on the conceptual and the new language colonised by the corporate.
Lives and Times… Writing on the World Around Us.
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