By David Joel Miller.
The meaning of “Hack” has changed.
One of my younger colleagues was talking to me about the desirability of “hacks.” This word like so many others has changed its meaning, not because the dictionaries had it wrong, but because people started using the word differently and then the dictionaries are having to change their definitions to keep up with the way people use the word.
As an old guy, this changing my vocabulary and changing my metaphors so as to be understandable to the younger generation is a challenge. Mentions of Milton Berle get mostly dumb stares these days. The word hack, for me, is especially challenging.
I am familiar with Lifehacking sites, I even subscribe to their email. It is just that I had no idea how many other areas of life were getting hacked these days.
Hack used to be something else.
Hacks used to be cabs you called to take you somewhere. In that sense, I can see the use of the term life hack. These little tips are meant to help you get from where you are to somewhere else, quickly or more easily.
A “Hack” also used to be someone who did things in an unprofessional or half-hearted way. Calling a journalist a “hack” as in writing an uninformed or factually incorrect story was one of the worst things you could say about a member of the third estate. Hack writers were thought of as being unoriginal and mediocre. In that sense, I would not want a hack writing my life hacks.
There is also hacking into computers, as in unauthorized entry and hacking things up with an ax, neither of which seems to be related to those other definitions of hack.
Today Hacks, life or otherwise, have become accepted as short, useful ways to do things better, faster and more easily. In an era when there is far more skimming than reading going on via the internet, using hacks makes sense. Skimming used to be a bad thing as in taking money out of the till which involved stealing or cheating on your taxes, but today skimming is grabbing the cream off the top of the article without reading every word. See the old guy is catching on.
Henceforth counselorssoapbox.com will be embracing Hacks, – sometimes.
As we look more at how to improve life, wellness, and recovery, and less at diseases and disorders, looks like Hacks have their place. It also appears that a number of the posts on counselorssoapbox.com in the past were in fact “hacks.” How to improve your memory, how to be happy, and so on. I would also include recovery tips in this category. So life hacks will now get their own category.
What about relationship hacks?
Not sure. Some of you youngsters need to let me know how far this hack thing should extend. Do we need friend hacks, memory hacks, etc or can we just lump them all together as life hacks? For now, just an added link to the posts that feature hacks and you can sort through them or look in the other categories for hacks.
Here is the link to the counselorssoapbox.com life hacks.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books