the password is SOCIALIZE

by santoki


One of the small highlights in my workaday is hearing corporate speak.  Now I know, this is definitely contradictory to much of what I’ve said in the past, but hear me out. After an extensive discourse with the Imperialist about potential inductees into the “Hall of Annoying Language,” I began to pay attention to the wit and wonder of my co-workers.

I would listen for who uses what word.  I would check how many times per conversation it might appear.  I would listen for correct usage.  I might add style points for multiple corporate-isms in one breath. Spotting the speak out in the wild has become a full on sport. Heck. If it was allowed, I might have invented the best drinking game ever.

In any case, the latest target in our endless smirkathon is “socialize:”

(v. w/ object) 1. to make social; make fit for life in companionship with others. 2. to make socialistic; establish or regulate according to the theories of socialism. 3. Education; to treat as a group activity; e.g., “to socialize spelling quizzes.” (v. w/o object) To associate or mingle sociably with others: e.g., “to socialize with one’s fellow workers.” [1]

(v. tr.) 1. To place under government or group ownership or control. 2. To make fit for companionship with others; make sociable. 3. To convert or adapt to the needs of society. (v. Int.) To take part in social activities.[2]

(v.) 1. take part in social activities; interact with others; “He never socializes with his colleagues”; “The old man hates to socialize” 2. train for a social environment; “The children must be properly socialized” 3. prepare for social life; “Children have to be socialized in school” 4. make conform to socialist ideas and philosophies; “Health care should be socialized!” [3]

Etymology: 1828, “to render social,” from social (adj.). Meaning “to be sociable, to mingle” is recorded from 1895. Socialization “process of making social” is from 1840.[4]

It’s a pretty straightforward word. When we socialize with out co-workers, it means happy hour. When we socialize our children, that means they will grow up to play well with other kids. When we socialize medicine, well, that’s still a pipe dream here in the States.

Madly, our little do-bees will never leave well enough alone.  They socialize processes: “Now that we have a new payroll system, we will need to socialize it with the staff.” They socialize documents: “The meeting minutes should be socialized with the attendees.” They socialize email: “The welcome email from Triple G should be socialized with management.”

In our hive, people love to socialize. Not with each other, mind you.  Heaven forbid!

I’m not sure who the wordsmith was who decided that “socialized” would be the catch-all word of the moment.  Probably someone in HR.  I think that I was out of that circle.  Perhaps with a bit of socialization…


[1] “socialize.” Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 17 Aug. 2007.

[2] “socialize.” The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 17 Aug. 2007.

[3] “socialize.” WordNet® 3.0. Princeton University. 17 Aug. 2007.

[4] “socialize.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 17 Aug. 2007.