Yesterday, Twitter announced (via Tweet) the following:
“We’re starting with a set of words we want to move away from using in favor of more inclusive language, such as:”
With this image attached:
Some of these words we have seen debate around before. The “Whitelist” / “Blacklist” terminology, for example, has been brought up as potentially concerning to some groups. And “Master” / “Slave” is another set of terms that, while in common engineering usage (including railroads, photography, etc.) for longer than most of us have been alive, has been concerning to some because of association of those words also being used in human slavery.
We're not going to be talking about those words here, today.
But there were a few other words that jumped out at me as being… just… super-duper odd.
Twitter Hates Grandfathers
Cheif among them… “Grandfathered.”
A term in common usage throughout almost every industry in the modern world. Essentially it means “We made a new rule / standard / service… but we'll allow some of that old rule / standard / service to continue.”
Twitter no longer will make use of that word… because doing so would not be, as they say, “inclusive.”
Think on that for a minute. “Grandfathered” is not “inclusive.”
Every single human being has a Grandfather. Technically, every human being has two Grandfathers. That's just how it works. We also have two Grandmothers. It is physically impossible for any human to exist (at least using current science) without Grandfathers and Grandmothers. Can't happen without them.
Which means… “Grandfather” is, quite possibly, one of the most inclusive words in the English language.
No matter who you are – regardless of your ethnicity, gender, religion, political afiliation, or any other factor – you have a Grandfather.
You may not like him. You may not even know him. But you have one. Just how it works.
Which means that Twitter banning the usage of “Grandfathered” (in code, meetings, documents, and even conversations – yes, Twitter is outlawing words in employee conversations, they were very clear on that) has absolutely nothing to do with being “inclusive.”
Thus, it is reasonable to assume that Twitter has other motives to outlaw employees from using words that reference the existence of Grandfathers.
I can think of no good reason to actually do this… other than hatred of grandfathers.
Other Weird Stuff Twitter Hates
Also note that all gendered pronouns (he/she/etc.) are on that list. This means that Twitter is now expressly forbidding all employees from using those pronouns in “conversations.” Which, regardless of what pronoun you want people to use when addressing you, is a strange over-reach by a mega corporation.
In fact, it is the opposite of inclusive as it forces almost everyone to use, and be referred to by, pronouns that they don't identify with.
“Sanity Check” and “Dummy Value” are also on the list.
The “Dummy Value” one is interesting. The only way “Dummy Value” becomes a possible issue is if all three of the following criteria are met (and all by the same person at the same time):
A person must self-identify as “Dummy” and want other people to refer to them as such.
The same person must view “Dummy” as a derogatory, negative statement.
That same person must also not want the word “Dummy” used for anyone (or anything) but themself.
If all three of those aren't met, all at once (by the same person or people), it simply would not be a problem within the context of how it is used in “Dummy Value.”
This word-ban would also, I assume, apply to: “Crash Test Dummy”, the exposed hand in a game of Bridge, a football tackle bag, puppets, a printed mock-up of a newspaper… and anything fictitious.
According to Twitter, employees are no longer allowed to use that word. In conversation. Or code. Or documents. Basically Twitter employees are not allowed to think the word “Dummy.”
This Is Not Good
Twitter is censoring. Not just speech, but thought.
This will encourage people to look for work… anywhere but Twitter.
Which means that Twitter's employee base will increasingly go downhill. They will have less talent to pick from, as people with “Grandfathers” and “genders” look for work in places where they are less likely to be fired, or otherwise punished, for accidentally mentioning those facts during conversations (which Twitter now regulates).
This also sets a bad precident for thought control. We're not talking about a few words that people find offensive here. We're talking about non-offensive words that apply (equally) to all people being banned from usage in all contexts.
But, But, But…
Many of you are screaming at your monitors right now. It's ok. Let it out.
Some of you will say that the phrase “Grandfathered” doesn't actually refer to “Grandfathers”. That the original usage of that word was related to voting rights of people who were not literate (could not read).
To which I would say this: These individuals (way back when) were allowed to continue to vote if their “Grandfathers” had voting rights (so that nobody would have voting rights taken away… only additional voting rights granted). The existense, and recognition of, the status of “Grandfathers” was a key part of those 1800's laws. Regardless of that, the common usage of the term (for over a century), has been well understood.
Which means, no matter how you look at it, “Grandfather” is the key bit here. And there is zero reason to outlaw the usage of the word within the workplace. It's not offensive. It's incredibly “inclusive.”
These actions by Twitter are, quite honestly, about as well thought out as a random Dummy Value.
Maybe Twitter needs a Sanity Check. Or, perhaps, Twitter should have put in some additional Man Hours on this word/thought-ban before making it official.
Inclusivity Isn't a Bad Thing!
I want to make something clear here.
The goal of building working environments where people feel welcome is a good thing.
I firmly stand by the motto of “Be Excellent To Each Other.” And, sometimes, there are phrases and words which do cause pain to others. When those come up, I think it is a reasonable (and very human) thing to do… to try to find ways to be kind to others.
I've been the target of some pretty cruel – and very “Not Excellent” – words and phrases, myself. I know what that feels like. It stinks. Being considerate of others is not a bad thing.
That said… these rules being put forth by Twitter are not good or helpful. What Twitter is pushing is more “Orwellian” than kind.
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