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Agency (pedantic rant)

Published by Wreybies in the blog Ponderings of a Pachyderm. Views: 395

Agency is my new un-favorite trending word across the internet. I'm seeing it everywhere, and everywhere I am seeing it misused. It falls into a bucket of un-favorite words that immediately prickle my skin because, outside of certain venues of conversation (like here in our forum where the word has a direct and important application) it's the sort of word people pull out in a kind of cerebral dick-measuring contest, hoping to exclude other participants by dint of vocabulary intimidation.

Also, it's being mutated into a dull synonym for simple responsibility, or worse, as a way of expressing a shield against accountability in action by claiming "no agency". "Couldn't be helped. Not accountable. I do what I want and then I will flash the agency card and you can go fuck yourself."


The very trend of "word trending" amazes me a bit. The internet and its ability to speed up certain processes makes it possible, as a linguist, to witness changes in meaning in a word that once took decades or centuries under prior linguistic paradigms, that now take only weeks or days as the chain of use across the data-sphere degrades or shifts the meaning of a word in a given direction.
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