I went on a tirade on twitter about the word tribe. I was annoyed because I’d followed a link to a link to a link for a blog that referred to paying members of an online group and advertisers as their “tribe.” It rubbed me the wrong way. Is that the real meaning of tribe? Or is it that language has changed so much over the last few years that it’s okay to refer to people who pay you for a service rendered as part of your tribe?
Words have meaning, words have power, blah de frickin’ blah. I’d like to go out on a limb and suggest that misusing a word or phrase has power too. I’m not suggesting anything about being political correct. It’s about how people misuse words, sometimes on a daily basis, and not bothering to actually learn the actual meaning of the word in question. My problem here is willful ignorance not the lack of political correctness. It’s the fact that the writer, a term I’m using loosely here, didn’t bother to use dictionary.com or even pick up a dictionary and look up the term before labeling her customers and clients as her tribe. It is clever marketing, if somewhat ignorant and insulting to the reader*.
I often see this trend online. One marketer** will decide to appropriate a term for his/her use and stick to it over and over and over, creating their own meaning and the people that read their blog, books, and articles eventually come to associate that meaning with the word. This mutability is what makes language so fascinating and beautiful.
I will continue to stick to my meaning of tribe that states that unless you are Micmac I’m not a part of your tribe. Otherwise, I can be your supporter, client, customer, and even in your network.
*I really do wish people would call into question the appropriation and misuse of language far more often than they do. Language is a wonderful thing to debate.
** I'm not even going to go into Palin's recent gaff of using the term blood libel in her most recent speech. ACK.