‘Fifty shades’ author E L James said, “Language evolves and moves on. It is an organic thing. It is not stuck in an ivory tower, hung with expensive works of art and overlooking most of Seattle with a helipad stuck on its roof.”
But language shapes the way we think, and now actually determines what we can think about, what is socially correct to think about.
In an increasingly politically correct world, where a new form of self righteous ‘Puritanism’ seemingly reigns supreme, language has taken a totally new direction in describing many things that previously had a particularly clear understanding as being something else, encouraging some form of self serving, hand wringing, soul cleansing, social inclusion that absolves society of blame or stigmatisation whilst simultaneously removing or erasing common sense, liability, responsibility, guilt and reason from the supposed victim.
The English language today is being highjacked by some crazy variations of evolution.
According to new ‘diversity’ guidelines, normal persons in the presence of people with disabilities should not be referred to as ‘normal’ but rather non-disabled persons. Clumsy individuals are now called “Uniquely coordinated”, if lazy you are now called “Motivationally deficient”, if you spend spend spend you are now a “Negative saver” and if you are one of life’s failures, in addition to being called vulnerable you are now deemed to have “Achieved a deficiency”.
If you are Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin you do not split up, you have a “Conscious Uncoupling”.
Public facing governmental offices and hospitals now have ‘clients’ AND we now no longer have customers- we have consumers’. Grrrrr
I have become increasing concerned about the prevalence of the term ‘vulnerable’. It seems that in today’s touchy feely, oh so caring society, the term has become overused to the point that it is now meaningless.
There is not a day that passes where you will not read or hear the word. The BBC is particularly adept at its misuse, regulators, civil servants and politicians likewise.
Vulnerable as an adjective is described in the Oxford dictionary as “exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally”. A thesaurus throws up many other words like exposed, sensitive and defenceless.
In our industry the vision regulators want the word conjuring up is meant to display advisers’ clients as under ‘fiscal attack’ from unscrupulous and uncaring firms.
What is your view of a vulnerable person?
Is it determined by physical or mental disability? Is it financially related?
Vulnerable is now used as a noun to describe or quantify a social collective, in this case the collective has been formed by way of being seen to be someone cast aside by society, a victim not responsible for their plight and dependent upon someone, anyone, coming along to reset the counter to zero so that they can do it all over again.
Vulnerable in many cases today is now used to describe someone who previously was known as simple, stupid, irresponsible, reckless, dangerous, a scourge on society and in doing so the truly vulnerable are done a great disservice.
Regulators are very fond of claiming that “vulnerable consumers” must be protected. A very good example of this is the latest FCA thinking on “Debt management firms selling ‘unsuitable’ plans”.
We are now looking at the very real possibility of regulation actively protecting people from their own stupidity. That is not a regulatory mandate yet we seem to be powerless to stop it. It is another way of unaccountable bodies generating work to justify their own existence instead of doing what it says on the can.
The FCA is the Financial Conduct Authority; it is not the Feckless Cuddling Authority.
In many cases these will be the same ‘vulnerable’ people who avoid the FOS and go to CMC’s in pursuit of a fast buck. After all where there is stupidity there is a stash of cash- for someone, although it is often the case that the stash is for the lawyers as they prey by statute on the vulnerable rather than protect.
So let’s have a rethink FCA, BBC, Parliament. Vulnerable is that person in a wheelchair, that person who cannot move, see, hear, walk, talk, and feel and is truly reliant on someone else to care for them.
It is not someone who was previously known in a different socio economic time as a waste of space and should be avoided at all costs.
Next week I get started on ‘hard working families’.