Last week, I had a conversation with someone where we clearly had a different understanding of the same term.
That term was “Imposter Syndrome”.
After the chat, I found myself obsessing on how annoyed I was. I think this difference in understanding is symptomatic of a greater issue we face.
The inaccuracy of the language we share.
The above example shouldn't really be an issue right? Except that It has now happened more than once and when describing my struggles with my own imposter syndrome I’m tired of people thinking I’m calling myself an imposter haha.
I’m starting to believe, sadly, that we live in a post facts world. Not pointing at anyone specific, but it would be untrue to point at all main political parties and news outlets in the last year and say that they’re innocent when it comes to the misuse of language whether it be in describing events or dispersing information.
I worry that this has become so mainstream it is crossing into society.
That feels enormously worrying.
The accountant brain in me is sounding the alarms. We’re losing the ability to communicate effectively.
How can we operate if we say things that don’t represent reality. How can we make effective decisions in life and business without effective language.
Prime examples are the use of "Never", "Always" and “Infinite”.
These are three specific terms that mean three very specific things.
Using infinite as a replacement for a really large number is inaccurate. A person needs to understand just how infinite, infinity is.
Using never as a replacement for a really low probability is inaccurate. We need to appreciate and respect that the word never is finite.
This means that when discussing probable outcomes. Never can only be used for something that is virtually impossible.
If we were to switch from these words to the baseline maths(something I have started doing to avoid the misuse of words). I wonder if we can all make better decisions as a society.
Could it be the magic pill that changes the trend we’re on?
Once we entertain that health emergencies have a low probability of happening, that the Fed raising rates aggressively has a low probability of happening, that the job you hold has a probability of being lost - as opposed to “that’s never gonna happen” do our collective guts go “oh hold on, maybe I shouldn’t take a $250k student loan, another car on finance, a second house?”
“Maybe I should save this bonus TODAY”.
If you’re still reading this - this is definitely one of the worst written pieces I’ve ever penned but I found myself wanting to share an article like this with someone to share my frustration with language misuse.
So thank you for sticking with it. Tweet me @mqsley to let me know what your language misuse peeves are.
As someone who suffers from imposter syndrome (see actual definition) I wonder if the inaccuracy of language adds to the rise in mental illnesses and loneliness that the developed world is experiencing.
Subconscious and conscious chains of thought that could be classified as cognitive distortions follow along the lines of “I will never achieve X”, “I can not do Y” and "This always happens".
To conclude I’m tired of society's degrading of language. We have hundreds of thousands if not millions of words in our language. Let us use them as they are meant to be used. I, probably like you, are far from perfect. But I’m committed to keep trying.
Poorly written post over.
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