Reading Jeremiah Owyang’s post on phrases he overhears when people talk about social media reminds me of another one that I hear all too frequently:
“Let’s harness the power of social media.”
‘Harness’ is one of the words many communicators and marketers have loved since the dawn of time. You see and hear it often in connection with almost any communication or marketing activity.
It’s a euphemism for control. Just look at this dictionary definition of the verb:
- (transitive) to place a harness on something; to tie up or restrain
They harnessed the horse to the post.
- (transitive) to capture, control or put to use
Imagine what might happen if it were possible to harness solar energy fully.
Perhaps some people don’t think of control when they say ‘harness,’ instead thinking more of ‘put to use.’ Yet that’s still about control.
As Jeremiah asks in his post, what’s in a word?
Plenty, as a word like this suggests the sayer of it still has to make the mindset jump to considering social media as tools for engagement, not control.