This past week I’ve been making the blog rounds, reading comments, logging into the GULC admitted student board, etc. It seems as though there’s this bizarre marketingesque language that a disturbing number of people (including 0Ls) are using or buying into – “Success” and “Achievement” and “Accomplishment” (v. “Failure”) and so forth.
Why is it that I just can’t make myself believe these terms mean anything – that they’re not simply clichéd linguistic placeholders for a complex series of personal assessments, or at least are key components of a simple and selfish motivational mantra?
Perhaps it’s because these terms always seem to be used without reference to any concrete thing, used in place of having to explain just what it is you’d want to do. I mean, if you want to help people mend their lives by mobilizing the law on their behalf, by all means, consider that an achievement. If you want to use your brain to direct the resources of the country towards removing nasty toxins from the soil and water and air, please, consider yourself something of “a success” after you’ve “accomplished” that in the real world. There are dozens of examples of people who act against selfishness, possessiveness, and shortsightedness.
But this vainglorious working, this dehumanizing paper-shuffling for the sake of some corporation. Dude – it’s so not an achievement of any kind to blithely grease the merger and acquisitions wheels of some corporate behemoth. Nor is it remotely admirable to surrender your humanity or individuality in the attempt to impress and perpetuate some conservative social institution. It’s not an achievement to make partner regardless of what you do, regardless of the practical consequences that has for the humans, both strangers and those in your life (including yourself.) And the shiny toys don’t impress me either. (Did I just feel as though I had to write that? How depressing.)
Tangentially Related Point – my firm just spent a buttload rolling out a “new visual identity,” and although we’re still using the same blithering prose on the new letterhead, this is expected to lead us to a “greater market share” via “branding.” But I have to think – when these proposals are reviewed by the potential clients, would any of them spontaneously remark, “Wow, far more expensive than the other guy, I can’t really follow what they’re saying, and I’m not sure just what they’re going to do for me that anyone else wouldn’t, but take a look at that letterhead!” Ah, to live in marketing with the shiny happy people and admire the cart on the horse’s nose.