Each week, the Sunday Post highlights just a few things we loved reading and want to share with you. Settle in with a cup of coffee, or tea, if that's your pleasure — we saved you a seat! Read an essay or an article online that you loved? Let us know at email@example.com. Need more browse? You can also look through the archives.
Let's step into writer Molly Young's office to sync up for a deep dive into corporatespeak. She finds more than a few pain points in her biting takedown of so-called garbage language and an exploration of its origins and raison d'être. Read this if you'd like to laugh out loud at her one-liner barbs aimed at corporations and feel uncomfortable about what lies at corporatespeak's foundation: anxiety about meaningless work and an attempt to package nothing into something, like turning maple syrup into all-natural, low glycemic-index sports fuel.
Our attraction to certain words surely reflects an inner yearning. Computer metaphors appeal to us because they imply futurism and hyperefficiency, while the language of self-empowerment hides a deeper anxiety about our relationship to work — a sense that what we’re doing may actually be trivial, that the reward of “free” snacks for cultural fealty is not an exchange that benefits us, that none of this was worth going into student debt for, and that we could be fired instantly for complaining on Slack about it. When we adopt words that connect us to a larger project — that simultaneously fold us into an institutional organism and insist on that institution’s worthiness — it is easier to pretend that our jobs are more interesting than they seem. Empowerment language is a self-marketing asset as much as anything else: a way of selling our jobs back to ourselves.
If you've ever read any article online, you've probably seen the low quality pay-per-click ads that appear beneath or adjacent to the content, typically with frightening pictures and copy like "Minnesota women hate this mom" or "Seven weird tricks for losing eighty pounds." And if you've seen those, you've probably seen the one touting a "gut doctor" who is absolutely "begging" you to stop eating a certain vegetable. Vox goes on a hunt to find the doctor and his vegetable. I'm so thankful that someone is finally answering the question of which vegetable we should throw out, so I don't have to click on the ad!
There is a gut doctor, and he begs Americans: “Throw out this vegetable now.” This news is accompanied by a different image nearly every time. This morning, the plea appeared at the bottom of an article on Vox next to a photo of a hand chopping up what appears to be a pile of green apples. At other times, it has been paired with a picture of a petri dish with a worm in it. Other times, gut bacteria giving off electricity. The inside of a lotus root. An illustrated rendering of roundworms.
As everyone already knows or is coming to realize, there are very few silver linings during a pandemic, which has already exacted a heavy toll in human lives and economic uncertainty. One small consolation is that some of us (it's me: I'm some of us) might be able to use the socially isolating weeks ahead to free ourselves from the fear of missing out and the worry that someone somewhere is having fun without us.
On Friday, as I finished up my second day of working from home, I realized something strange. Even though a severe virus was spreading throughout the city I live in, I felt a sense of calm about the weekend ahead. Not because of any diminished concerns about COVID-19—I’m closer to a hypochondriac than a finger-licker on the health anxiety spectrum—but because of the virus’s social consequences here in Seattle. Namely, that fewer people would be out and about on Friday and Saturday nights, doing exciting things and meeting exciting people, and thus making me feel less lame.