Participation medals for moral panic

I’ve always wondered about why some words are deemed to be more dangerous than other. I’m not referring to offensive language here, that’s an entirely different conversation. But words that are simply shunned for their perceived power. Words like “problem”.

A problem is a complication in your way. Something to be solved, worked around or on. In engineering and design a problem is not a negative word, it’s what you’re there to straighten out. Not exactly the focus of your work, but an important part.

In other fields, like politics, a words power comes from the perceived effect it might have. So Problems get renamed into Challanges, and recently I saw the next logical step; Opportunities.

The problem with this second way of working with language is that we’re shooting the messenger. We’re reframing and retooling language instead of working on the problem.

Instead of doing PR about a crash we’re pretending new words can achieve less crashes.

Language has power, and choosing the right words is important. We should continue to do so. But not to absurd extremes.

Fear of problems will not diminish because we change the vocabulary every five minutes. Showing that problems can be worked on and overcome might diminish that fear.