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Maybe The Trees Can Keep It Simple; The Use Of Medical And Scientific Language In Social Roles
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Maybe the Trees Can Keep it Simple; The Use Of Medical And Scientific Language In Social Roles

Simplicity is quite possibly the most difficult concept to actualise. Years of living in a world defined by categories including right and wrong, true or false; combined with ugly or beautiful, safe or dangerous, average or extreme etc have contributed to a mindset that is uncomfortable for many to adopt.

Often simplicity is equated with stupidity. Even the KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) maxim agitates many of us. This is possibly because of the sciencification or medicalisation of life that we have seen evolved as we have evolved. As a partly exaggerated example; a spade is no longer a spade but a soil-agitation implement for use during botanical activities.

If we work from this exaggerated, but never-the-less common translation of a single word description into a multiple word categorisation, the first thing that is obvious is that one word has become many, whilst a tool which could arguably be used for an extensive range of activities has been linked to one use within one specific category of activity; soil-agitation during botanical activities; digging soil in the garden in other words.

This highlights a paradox of sorts. Whilst the description of a thing has become expansive, the use of a thing has become notably restrictive. This infers that the purpose of sciencification or medicalisation is not to evolve but to devolve, and devolution is essentially a restructuring of power; a degeneration of power some might say. But is this feasible? Can our use of medical and scientific language be linked to power distribution?

Well, if we take a real life scenario in which a cleaner was re-categorised as a sanitary hygiene worker we can see it is feasible. A cleaner suggests someone who cleans but not specifically what they clean. It might be that they clean equipment hundreds of feet below the ocean surface; a highly specialised job with high remuneration involved. Or it might mean they clean chewing gum off the sidewalk for a pittance. A sanitary hygiene worker however is basically understood to mean someone who cleans toilets and earns a low wage.

What we observe in this scenario is that the word cleaner has mutated into a complex, medico-scientific term, whilst the breadth of potential skills and earning capacity is reduced to a specific domain and pay-bracket. Once upon time this was called pigeon-holing and it had nothing to do with science and medicine and everything to do with the balance of power in society.

In ancient Greece, Mecca of early western habits of science and medicine, slaves were not only slaves, but galley slaves, house slaves, kitchen slaves etc. Categorisation of social function was a serious matter back then, and I sense this habit we have of making scientifically and medically specific what was once general and full of potential is just a continuation of categorising members of society into social pigeon-holes.

This is not an attack on science and medicine but an exploration of the habit of using scientific and medical language in models for social division and description. If we would like to perceive a society of social beings in a specific way, it seems reasonable to use social language, and a spade sounds more social than a soil-agitation implement for use during botanical activities; a cleaner sounds more social than a sanitary hygiene worker.

Perhaps the reason that simplicity is quite possibly the most difficult concept to actualise is that somewhere inside ourselves we are conflicted by this paradox in which a seemingly more sophisticated job description results in a more restricted social role, and restriction in general is uncomfortable.

Once upon a time simplicity was a simple concept able to be actualised simply. Today it seems to have become a non-complex cerebral phenomenon, whilst articles such as this have become digital, articular presentations paradoxically viewable on something pretty complex, but simply called the Internet or Web.

It seems that we are simply talking to ourselves in complicated language wondering why it all seems so complicated. Perhaps human language ought to be restricted to non-human organic life-forms. Maybe the trees can keep it simple .


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