Friday, January 9, 2009

"To pursue other interests."

Nearly every day in the trade press we read about some C-level person who is leaving their high-falutin' job of 24-years 'to pursue other interests.' To pursue other interests is a remarkable turn of a phrase. Is there anyone anywhere who thinks even for an nano-second that 'pursuing other interests' isn't synonymous with either "I'm fed up, I quit," or "my ample arse has been canned"?

I guess what sticks in my craw is the dumbness of all this. We use a subterfuge so as to avoid saying "has been fired." But the subterfuge we use is the most cliched cliche and so fools no one. So what's the point?

Today, of course I read this in the online New York Times:
"U.S. Loses 524,000 Jobs in December". Now if those half-million people were highly-paid, would the headline need to be re-written like this: "524,000 in U.S. Choose to Pursue Other Interests"? Or "Choosing to Pursue Other Interests Rate at 15-Year High."

The point, really, is this, language loses its ability to communicate if you abuse it.


j said...

Isn't this what we do? The more words we use to describe something unpleasant, the softer the landing when they fall on us. See Carlin, George: "shell shock"

george tannenbaum said...

It's what we do. But we have to keep our words constantly fresh. Otherwise it's stale. And dumb.

j said...

You're certainly correct. Forgive me, I meant "humans," not just advertising people.

Anonymous said...

I think much of the doubletalk around getting sacked has sprung from the frightening ascendancy of "Human Resources" departments in American corporations, including agencies. With hard-won client dollars, we subsidize these people's existence and proceed to let them wheedle and spin the dynamics of agency life. It's fucked. This was never a "People Business" It's The Idea Business, and we need to be able to summarily boot anybody who gets in the way.

george tannenbaum said...

Anonymous, I agree wholeheartedly.

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