On jargon

Image: Olu Eletu

There’s not many things I can’t stand as much as jargon.

A certain amount of harmless jargon is fine. Maybe even unavoidable. But when I’m perusing a website laden with pointless jargon, I reach a point of intolerance which evokes a violent reaction that makes me want to delete/ridicule/burn the piece of content in which said jargon is coming from.

Usually I realize, blowtorch in hand, that I’m about ready to set fire to my laptop and I stop just shy of engulfing my Macbook in flames.

When people use jargon, they can easily justify it by believing they’re acting out of strength. Like they’re putting a tough, professional coat of armor on their business messaging or industry blog.

But really… Using jargon is just a way of hiding out.

Somewhere, possibly deep down, they know what they really want to say. If they were sitting with you over a beer, they likely wouldn’t speak in jargon.

But writing is different. With writing, there’s time to sit and look at what you wrote before you publish it on your website/blog/etc. Just enough time, in fact, for that amygdala to fire and immediately take you back to that professor in business school who terrified you — the one who would surely ridicule you if he knew you were stepping out of the ‘best practices’ of the industry. The one who prided himself on out-jargoning his fellow professors…

Jargon is a byproduct of fear.

Meanwhile, people who dance with that fear and ignore it allow themselves to say what they really want to say in a fresh, human way. These people are nurturing enthused audiences who can’t get enough of their messaging.

Don’t get me wrong. Scrapping the jargon for the clear, sassy, unmistakable human voice is as scary as hell.

But we can’t let the fear keep us from hitting ‘publish’.


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