Take a stand for meaning

I detest fakery with highest intensity. Fake people, fake things, fake events, fake titles…there is little I can do to stomach these atrocities of modern times. I believe the “flattening” of our society has accelerated this trend to an unbearable pace.  (Like so many of my blog posts, I will forgo the defense of this thesis and jump straight to satirical whining.)

I see it everywhere, colored red and staring at me with great big fake eyes.  Every lab I see is a Distinguished Center of Excellence in their field.  John Stewart aired a great piece about this phenomenon in the political commentary realm.  Got two Masters students in a basement? Sounds like the Center for the Study of Remote Sensing in Giraffe Science to me.  Do you work at a gift basket company looking for new chocolates to put in your gift baskets?  Sounds like your job title is Head of Mergers and Chocolate Acquisitions.  Did you get 3rd in a race against 5 people in the 4th tier category?  Here, take a Bronze Medal!  Display it prominently when company visits.  Certainly they must know of your unwaivering fortitude.

The baseless, rampant assignment of value to undeserving outlets can be harmless (if a job title makes someone feel good about themselves, then shouldn’t they get a job title?).  It can also be extremely harmful.  You hardworking college graduates know this when you butt heads with the communications/poly sci/soc triple major from U. of Phoenix.  You have a bachelor degree too? In three “majors”?  Why didn’t you just go for the home run and get an honorary doctorate as well?

The whole mess has a nasty diluting effect.  We, as a society, have a harder time than ever picking out real expertise from the sea of fake titles and faker facades.  Why do I lament this fact so strongly?  There’s few things so ugly as witnessing a true expert be spoken over by a bumbling nitwit.  It’s the sound of the delicate leaves of wisdom crunched by the ignorant boots of inconsiderates.  It’s the 2-year yoga instructer from LA telling the lifelong Zen Master how to find inner peace.  Sadly, the loudest of the two voices is the one that gets heard.

Do not stand for it.  Fight the ebbing tides of vacuous labels.  Don’t give your research a prententious acronym if it does not merit one.  Eschew the urge to join some resume-padding fake society.  Eschew the urge to use stupid words like eschew in a blog post.  Do the things in life that bring you happiness. Do not frame these things with 2 x 4’s made of hollow job titles, plaques, and plastic tropheys.  True feats taste incomparably sweeter when you don’t crowd them in a basket of fakery.

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~ by wcuk on November 25, 2008.

5 Responses to “Take a stand for meaning”

  1. Where do I pick up my participation ribbon for reading this post?

    Nice rant. Well-thought work doesn’t need fancy titles or words to be recognized. It is too bad that it is far easier to obtain fancy titles or make up elaborate labels than to conceive and execute an elegant and insightful study. At conferences, one can tell who has done their best to make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear and who has done methodical work over a number of years. I hope that my thesis doesn’t stink of swine.

    Keep up the good fight, respect those who blazed paths and highways ahead of us, and I’ll look forward to the fruition of your work.

  2. There is a direct correlation between number of majors and difficulty of said majors (notable exception being my friend Rodney who doubled in Elec Engineering and Physics). Yes, I only have one major, but it took up most of my time and college credits.

  3. “Sadly, the loudest of the two voices is the one that gets heard.”

    too true

  4. willis,
    please do not refrain from blogging, if even for a week over christmas. the internets needs you.

  5. “The baseless, rampant assignment of value to undeserving outlets… “. I blame this on dear abby who for 52 years has validated people who are not validated by their peers. There must be some correlation between advice columnists and fakery.

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