Craft bullshit

I have this quaint belief that words should mean what they mean, and that misusing a word because it sounds cool is dumb. And if you’re a communicator by profession, it’s professional malpractice.

And Lexus has been advertising up a storm on the elevators in my office building.*

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Lexus is not alone in its use of the word “craft” as a meaningless but hip synonym for “make” but they are certainly aggressive about it.

Lexus does not “craft” cars. They design and build cars. They do a very good job of it. The cars are not my taste (coma-inducing not being high on my list of desirable attributes for an auto) but by any measure they design and build very high quality cars that give owners little trouble and that their fans keep buying over and over.

Similarly, they do not “craft” experiences, because nobody “crafts” experiences. They create experiences by thinking through what will happen to the person who will experience them, and that’s an admirable thing for a company to do. For example, the Volkswagen dealer where I take my car for service creates (not “crafts”) very positive experiences for me by making it easy to schedule appointments, being ready for me when I arrive, giving me complete and helpful information, and following through on commitments. It’s great! Plus, I don’t have to drive a Lexus!

Does this matter? Am I just being a curmudgeon? Well, I’m definitely being a curmudgeon, but with good reason. When I hear the word “craft” I think certain things – for example, a piece of “hand-crafted” furniture is, I assume, made by an artisan (another word with a specific meaning that is heavily abused these days) who has honed her skill over a long period of time and who will be creating something that is not stamped off of an assembly line, something with some unique features, perhaps adjusted to my requests. It is, in other words, the antithesis of what I expect when I buy a Lexus (or a Volkswagen). I expect extremely high quality from both, but these are different processes.

So the widespread abuse of the word “craft” drains it of meaning. If a Lexus is “crafted,” what’s the word for what that furniture maker is doing? Because it’s something different, with different processes and values, and we used to be able to identify that with the word “craft.” Until Lexus ruined everything, just as Lexus drivers usually ruin everything when you encounter them on the road.

Use words correctly. Respect their meanings. If you use words for a living, as the people who made these ridiculous Lexus ads do, it’s not just something you should do as someone who is competent in English; it’s your fucking job, so get it right.

*  Don’t even get me started on the idea that one can’t right up 7 floors on an elevator without a video screen for entertainment. Heaven forbid we should be left alone with our thoughts for 20 seconds. I told you I was a curmudgeon. 

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