“Organic”: A Horribly Misunderstood Word
There is a word out there, at this very moment, that is probably being misused somewhere in this country.
A wonderful, wash-over-you sort of word. It always conjures for me the images of freshly tilled Earth and that wonderful smell you get when standing in the middle of a heavily forested area; the fresh air, a hint of moss covering fallen tree trunks, and the satisfying crunch of browned leaves under your feet. It might have this effect because I’ve taken one too many hiking trips in my earlier years through the woods and in the mountains of British Columbia.
The word I’m talking about?
The sights, sounds, and smells this word brings up in my mind are now heavily glazed with a coat of annoyance due to the sheer amount I see it used as some synonym for “new, insightful, or fresh”.
Either that, or some marketing buzzword; but to be quite honest, I don’t really mind it being used in such a manner. If your vegetables, coffee, and various department store merchandise are all being sold to you as “organic” products, then sure. Usually it just means that it was grown without “chemicals” (I never really hear which ones, just that they are harmful) and that’s all well and good if you feel like paying an extra buck or two. I don’t care for organic products myself, but I don’t really mind that they exist either. They have a market, and they cater to it. It’s no different than advertisers putting “home-style” or “fresh” or “fat free” or whatever strikes a chord with consumers. “Home-style” does not mean it was cooked in a home, by a loving, doting mother who hands it down to you with a pat on the head and a kiss, which is clearly the nostalgic image of times past that they are trying to evoke with such a phrase. Likewise, “fresh” is rather ambiguous, and doesn’t really mean anything when placed on a product. Regardless of how sealed the package of that box of cookies you just bought is, it doesn’t stop the march of time. Fresh means “newly made or obtained; recently arrived; just come” (according to the dictionary, anyway) and that does not apply to cookies sitting on a supermarket shelf for days on end.
What I’m getting at is this; using words to evoke emotions that makes us wish to buy certain products is a cornerstone of the marketing empire. The word is not misused in this context, it is merely a tool in the arsenal of those who wish to promote their product to a certain audience.
Marketing is one thing, but general conversation is another.
Here is why this word is truly misused, and what has caused my loathing:
“That idea you had was very organic.”
“I love that book. It’s so introspective and organic.”
Okay, okay, I get it. I realize that the word in this context usually refers to something that seemed to have a life of it’s own, that grew and developed absent of structure or (sometimes) intentional thought. A mere colloquialism we have adopted.
The problem is the elitism we have prescribed it. It seems to hold some special meaning these days that has absolutely nothing to do with the actual meaning of the word. As though the thing described (usually being a work of art; movies, books, paintings, etc) is more “deep” or thought-provoking by being “organic”.
This, ladies and gentlemen, does not make any sense. Organic, as a base word, means, in essence, “something that is living”, and eventually became a colloquialism, “something that developed naturally, as though it were living” and then developed into the ridiculous “something that is (seemingly) more profound and fresh than other things out there.”
“Organic” is not a synonym for “original”.
That’s just being pretentious.
Brendon “organically produced” Regier