By changing the word we could bend reality

The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing.aIt stayed singular for the next five hundred years. Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities. Illogically, we reasoned that by changing the word we could bend reality. Somehow we would now be able to have multiple ‘first’ things.”

Greg McKeown,
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

We reasoned that by changing the word we could bend reality

First off, while this book is full of good ideas it’s a little too corporate touchy-feely for my tastes. There’s that veneer of disingenuous concern for your mental health, while helping you to boost your productivity for the benefit of your employer. It’s the sort of book we’d be required to read when I was a relationship manager bridging workgroups in the Fourth and Eighth circles of Hell. The author doubtless makes bank on his numerous speaking gigs.

Anyway, to address the quote at hand: this is another example of Orwellian doublespeak that predates Orwell. It’s the precursor of the myth of mulitasking. We see here, in the pluralization of the word priority, that deceitful magic or language that insists that saying a thing makes it so. Go watch the news for more examples. It’s the Big Lie theory. Say something often enough, and loud enough, and it becomes the truth.

Minimalism, people. When you have less to deal with, it becomes a lot clearer what’s important, what’s immediate, and what’s just a waste of time, money, and energy.

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