Choose Your Words Carefully

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A recent blog post contained the following sentence:

“In [an upcoming report], we’ll detail major tectonic shifts which we’ve been monitoring in the industry and why we are reaching a tipping point where constancy is now riskier than change.”

The snarketing meter went into the red on that statement.

There are few terms more overused in punditville than “tectonic shifts” and “tipping point” (“disruptive” comes to mind).

But it was the word “constancy” that tripped me up. The dictionary defines constancy as:



1. The quality of being faithful and dependable.

2. The quality of being enduring and unchanging.

Hmm. Let’s revisit the sentence above. Substituting the definition of constancy for the word produces:

“…we are reaching a tipping point where the quality of being faithful and dependable is now riskier than change.”


“…we are reaching a tipping point where the quality of being enduring is now riskier than change.”

Is being faithful, dependable, and/or enduring now “riskier than change”?

I don’t think so. In fact, I’d bet that the author of the sentence in question would agree that firms and people need to change in order to become enduring.

In his book The Cult of the Amateur, Andrew Keen discussed how a “sea of amateur content threatens to swamp the most vital information.” The sentence in question in this blog post might not exactly rise to the level of “swamping vital information” but could be interpreted as the product of an amateur who chose his words — or at least one of them — unwisely.

But the author of the sentence isn’t an amateur. He’s a professional — that is, he writes reports for a living. Reports that are edited by professionals (i.e, editors) who ensure that the wrong words aren’t used. 

If a professional is misusing words, and twisting the meaning of things, can you imagine how bad it is with the millions of “amateurs” creating content?

This is not a good development. We live in a business environment where many marketers are obsessed with creating content in order to differentiate and brand their companies and/or products. If the quality of that content is marred by the improper use of words and indiscriminate use of superlatives then, at best, the branding impact will be minimized.

Is there a point to all this? Nope. Just ranting. And hoping the author of the sentence didn’t mean Teutonic shifts. 

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