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No, this post is not about relationships! At least if you don't classify relationship to material possessions to that category. The thing I do want to talk about is what we hear people often say "I need [insert your preferred material possession here]." For example, I have heard said, "I need a new phone", "I need a new camera", "I need a new job". Shudders. I find it rather obvious that these people do not actually need the phone/camera/job, but that they want it. To state this is so obvious that it is a platitude. Yet most people say such things. I would think that the thing that so disturbs me is not so much the evident self-righteousness about it, but that it sounds to me like an excuse. There's nothing wrong with wanting a new phone. I bought one just a few days ago, because I wanted one and I love it. But claiming that I need one is just plain wrong. Saying that I need one would have been an excuse for buying it. "I need to stay in touch with my family (who lives abroad)". No. I want to stay in touch with my family, yes. Claiming that I need that phone equates to sucking for support from my friends. When I tell my friends that I need a new phone, I'm longing for reinforcement to my implicit decision to buy one, I'm sucking that support. And it is a trap. I just need my friends to not contradict me, I need them to be supportive, I need them to just talk about the different choices of phones. What I don't want is questioning my needs. Oh no. Questioning my needs would be an attack on me. So framing the whole phone-question in this "I need it" context, I force them into supporting my implicit decision to buy it. And it is a decision that I have not dared to admit to myself. Otherwise I would not need to suck support for it. I would just say, "I am going to buy a new phone." No, I say "I need a new phone." Feels so much better, doesn't it? This is the point in a post where I usually turn to the meta-level. What generic message can we learn from this? (Note for advanced users: Observe the meta-meta-level commentary here!) I have for a long time already been unable to decide whether I support or not this type of word-games. Yes, on the short term I believe that opposing the word "need" would transform attitudes of a lot of people to the better. But the real question is, does it have a lasting effect? Has the banning of the word "nigger" changed the attitudes of people to towards people of different ethnic backgrounds? (Observe here the laborious avoidance of mentioning any other specific ethnic groups). Banning the n-word certainly did bring awareness of the problems to a lot of people, but on the other hand, that certainly did not eradicate the problem. The connotation was transferred to the word "black", which is now also banned. Only when the assigned preferred politically correct term became too-long-to-use-in-any-practical-sentence, "of african american origins", did the ethnic group loose a simple way for name-calling and was thus moved to safety. This comparison between two n-words is probably a tad too grand and far-fetched. But what is then my opinion on the word "need"? Like always, my answer is awareness. (It has become a bit too much of a standard answer, hasn't it? But still..) If I could somehow raise awareness of the problem with the word "need" (and here, note how this blog-post is self-referential), I do accept that the word is not used in a strict sense. The lives of people are not depending on acquiring new phones and saying that they need phones does also not imply this. The logically strict interpretation "I need a new phone" = "I need a phone to survive", is just not what people mean. Despite the danger of paternalism, I do appreciate peoples need (!) for short-cuts, to use simple language instead of logically strictly correct expressions. And this does not disturb me, as long as it is not used to trick me to support their own fallacies.
Avainsanat: you word type towards touch real rather question problems problem thus they term talk somehow sense relationship grand generic games friends example despite days context changed certainly bought blog become became attack iives like learn language it heard hear group phone people note need message mean me material