Talking with a couple of mates over a beer recently, one of whom has a successful boutique recruitment agency, we found ourselves reflecting on the changes in word usage that had occurred over the last 20 years, and how we had contributed to the changes, most of which we did not feel were improvements.
A few examples.
“Gay”. A friend of mine at school was named Gaye, lovely girl, great fun, bet she has changed her name.
“Like”. It actually used to mean something, rather than acting as a tool of verbal punctuation.
“Green” used to be a really nice colour, not a political label.
The kicker for me was “passion”.
Do we have to be passionate about everything? Cooking. Suddenly we have to be passionate about cooking, when sometimes cooking is just to refuel, and jobs. A quick look at any jobs site will tell you that to be considered you must be passionate about your job, the mission of the enterprise, collaborating with others, and so on, Sometimes, a job is just a job, it pays the bills, keeps the kids occupied , and with luck delivers some intellectual and emotional support.
“Passion” has become a cliche, and has an unfortunate simile, Pretentious.
If you really want someone to be passionate, to make the emotional investment you are seeking, you had better give them a very good reason, because passion is a very private emotion, not given easily.