12 November 2011

Words and Their Consequences

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m a big fan of Cracked.com’s John Cheese.  The man can write, be funny, and has wisdom.  The article to which I’m linking is longish, but it’s well worth the read.  It’s called “5 Ways We Ruined the Occupy Wall Street Generation,” which starts off with Cheese noting the hypocrisy of his generation’s expectation for the OWSer generation:

But here's the thing: Those Baby Boomers who started this "you don't want to flip burgers" bullsh*t did flip burgers. Or roof houses, or mine coal, or [redacted]. And that wasn't something to be ashamed of back then -- that was the era before you needed a bachelor's degree to get a job waiting tables (but more on that in a moment). But at some point between my grandfather's time and now, getting your hands dirty became something to be ashamed of. My generation perpetuated that. We made it socially unacceptable to:
A) Do any job that requires sweat and/or a uniform.
B) Work 70-hour weeks to get ahead.
So if you don't do either of those things, what's left? Getting an education and waiting for a good job in your field. But now, when we catch you doing that, we mock you and tell you to go flip burgers. And that's bullsh*t. We told you your whole lives that those jobs were for idiots and failures. You think you're too good for those jobs because that's what we've been f**king telling you since birth.

See, words have meaning.  If you tell an entire generation that manual labor is beneath their dignity, don’t be surprised when they grow up and think that manual labor is beneath their dignity!  I remember my mom complaining to me once about how my generation thought manual labor was beneath, how my generation thought that working fast food or construction was beneath our dignity, how we thought that we deserved to sit behind a desk doing cool things.

This seemed highly hypocritical to me, because it was basically the exact opposite of how she reacted to me when I came home from high school one day and told her that I was considering becoming a painter* (of the residential/commercial variety; not the artistic variety).  She flipped out when I said this and told me that I better go to college and get a good job when I inevitably graduated.  Yet she stills wonders how my generation ever got it into our heads that we were destined for something better than manual labor.

* I ended up getting a full tuition scholarship to college, so I decided to pursue a post-secondary education.  Now that I’m close to attaining it, I've realized that I’d still be pretty happy working as a painter.  The sheer amount of nonsense that passes for a business-oriented education has killed any desire I’ve ever had for working behind a desk for a major corporation.  I’d rather do something that adds value to this world.


  1. In terms of PC bullshit, the corporate environment is a LOT worse than the classroom! I've spent time in both (got a STEM degree and worked for two Fortune 500 companies), so I speak from experience...

  2. @MarkyMark- I was complaining about business jargon, which is simply pretentious. Still, the PC stuff is annoying as well. All I know is that I don't want anything to do with major corporations.