We live in a faked world with faked ideals, faked money and faked language. A world of quick fixes and quick money, where the path to success no longer requires hard work, just covers up the shortcomings that arise. When something doesn’t seem as perfect as the cinema or your neighbor’s life, we treat, we whitewash, we dress in fancy robes and ornate facades until we convince ourselves and everyone else that the inside is not corrupt and failing, but rather decent is and flourish.
Throw your deflating money against the cryptocurrency wall and maybe you will run into gold. Take your investment advice from a Tik-Tok video, buy GameStop options on a whim, and pray for a miracle. When it fails, instead of locating the underlying problem, complain about the injustices of capitalism: high time preference and the inability to take responsibility for life choices.
We rely on fake energy, with solar panels on the roof and wind turbines in the desert, the plains and the shores of the ocean, and then we are surprised when there are blackouts and the electricity bills go through the roof. The government and environmental spokesmen said they were clean and put subsidies in your way, so of course they have to be good.
If a freak virus suddenly spreads across the world, with all the mighty power of the Great Government we will be hard to fall, aided, of course, by the central planners of the world. We don’t let people take responsibility for their health – encourage them to eat better, exercise more, be outside more – but lock them up in their homes, where the disease spreads more easily and where they get their vitamin D. -Do not renew the supply. We pretend the solution is a medical invasion, a quick fix, not a healthy body and a strong immune system.
We pretend we can fix problems if we just hire the right central planner to push through some minor pain relief afterwards.
We can change the world with a mere adjective
In my professional life I sometimes have the thankless task of dealing with writers who have thoroughly internalized this worldview. A few years ago the Guardian, Britain’s leading left-wing newspaper, received worldwide praise when its editors updated the newspaper’s usage. Climate change would henceforth be referred to as a “climate emergency” or “climate crisis”; Climate skeptics as “climate science deniers” or as terrifying “climate deniers”.
I noticed earlier this year that the Financial Times, of its own accord or under pressure from the group, had followed suit. In an article denouncing Bitcoin’s energy consumption (which is actually quite low), the editors felt the need to write, “There shouldn’t have to be a compromise between the so-called democratization of finance and the climate emergency,” as if using stronger Words would have an impact on the theme of the piece. And it wasn’t the first time either, as the editorial team had used this exact formulation in opinion articles at least twice before in the past year (here and here). Just a few years ago, the FT was routinely using more conventional language to discuss climate change.
In my life, I couldn’t figure out what caused this obsession with word games. Could it really be that the words of these unrealistic elite journalists were preventing the world from launching the aggressive climate policies that the higher echelons of our intellectual class so desperately wanted?
Something similar happened with ethnicity last year. Simmering in the underworld of race wars, many activists had urged their news providers to capitalize “black” to indicate that it was an ethnic group with a uniform heritage (such as Latinos or Indians) rather than just a physical description. a mere adjective. It was not until the George Floyd protests last summer that the New York Times internalized this important struggle of our time: to respect and honor the historic sacrifice of African Americans – by symbolically enhancing a letter. The Associated Press, which set standards for many other publications, issued similar guidelines and jumped straight into the culture wars by refusing to similarly capitalize “white”. “White people,” the announcement said, “have a lot less history and culture in common” and therefore didn’t deserve the upgrade.
I have nothing against different writing styles. I earn my living editing newsletters, quarterly reports and submitting scientific journals. Most outlets use a different style and format; some capitalize titles, others don’t. Some spell out full names while others rely on initials. Some require a specific convention of letters and numbers (e.g. numbers one through nine are spelled, but 10 and above are spelled with digits). This is the path of decentralized and evolving orders like language. To each his own. During Black History Month last year, I even recommended a client to follow this new activist spelling practice because her article looked closely at the repression of black writers in the media and education and the spelling convention was a relevant note.
Spelling conventions, gender-neutral pronouns, or other superficial etiquette don’t really bother me – they’re just the icing on the cake, gift wrapping. What annoys me immensely are the sanctimonious elites who replace false charades with real and meaningful changes. If you really believe in the importance of your cause, instead of playing word games or dressing your messages in righteous facades, do something about it. If people are interested in your writing, it is because of the content of your work, not the spelling convention you choose when packaging this message. This is why British spelling (eg “labor”, “defense”) or punctuation conventions, although unusual for an American audience, hardly distract from the appreciation of Churchill or Orwell.
Speaking of Orwell, our journalist corps seems to have embraced the opposite sin that Orwell attacked in his Politics and the English Language: instead of obscuring truths with euphemisms, writers exaggerate truths to the point where they mentally numb their readers. If crisis is our everyday condition today, how are we supposed to speak of actual crises when they arise – double plus crises? If inequalities can be removed with the stroke of a pen, why don’t we already live in a paradise of justice and abundance?
Do we really believe that we are healing deep-seated hatred of the race, gender, or sexuality of others by updating the spelling of articles that the subjects of our despicable Gospels are unlikely to read? Most likely, you just annoy and polarize people before distancing yourself from the people whose thoughts you want to convince the most.
In “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature,” Harvard’s Steven Pinker wrote of “euphemism treadmills,” the linguistic idea “that concepts, not words, come first in people’s minds.” When you update the name of something, neologism inherits that thing’s connotation. “Give a concept a new name and the name will be colored by the concept.”
In the last few decades a “cleaner” became a “caretaker”, then a “supervisor” or “caretaker” and then “operations manager” (and soon, I assume, “disposal manager”). Yet what sort of demeaning disdain for people who or not clean the desks of our semantic crusader journalists remains fairly intact (not that it should, as its value to society is likely to exceed that of what facility managers serve). .
St. Thomas More, a 16th-century statesman, author, and lawyer is often quoted as saying:
“Some men say the earth is flat. Some men say the earth is round. But if it’s flat, could parliament make it round? And if it is round, could the king’s command smooth it out? “
Replace “rulers” with “journalists” and “earth” with “the issues of our time,” and Sir Thomas could speak to our society five centuries later.
Instead of actually striving for greatness, self-actualization, or a safe and comfortable life, we patch our false ideals with quick fixes. We portray a glorious life on Instagram and we drool jealously of the latest filtered picture of our friends from Aruba, Bali or a Greek island beach. We dreamily relax with a telenovela or an amazingly addicting Netflix show – not with the treasure of human literature, human connection or a sunset.
When the initial surge of joy is over, we turn to the opioids that the doctor has been so happy to prescribe for us or the antidepressants that we believe will save us from the abyss. When we have high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes, we believe we are helplessly in need of expensive medication – no exercise or the balanced blood sugar provided by cutting off grains and carbohydrates or following the carnivore diet.
In our anger of faking it, we skip the hard work that could actually improve our lives – the proof of work for our money, the proof of training for our health, the proof of relationships that is the reward for our continued attention .
There are many things Bitcoin and its cyber hornets fail to fix – but at least it gives a semblance of honesty and a refusal to accept bullshit. It urges its users to take responsibility for their own lives and finances, to move their gaze from immediate pain to future profits, and to meaningful changes rather than cosmetic updates.
Fight the semantic and stylistic and political and medical battles as much as you want, but don’t pretend it brings your lofty ideals an inch closer to reality. Quick fixes will not fix a world that is drowning in presumption.
This is a guest post by Joakim Book. The opinions expressed are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.