You may have heard about "pink slime" in recent weeks. If you haven't, let me clue you in: It's the latest social media trend in what to hate, right up there with Kony and people who don't know how to use memes corretly. In fact, there has been such a public outrage over beef companies using pink slime as a filler in their ground beef that the USDA has made new rules forcing food companies to allow schools to protect their students from pink slime by opting out of meat that include the stuff. Jobs are being lost at the companies that use it. Here's the weird thing, though: The pink slime that companies use as a cheap filler for meat is made out of ... more meat.
Basically, they take all the pieces of fat that have bits of meat stuck to them and superheat them and spin them really fast, and the meat separates from the fat and they can stick those little bits of meat back in with the other ground beef rather than throwing it away and wasting it. It's basically the same stuff hot dogs are made out of, and you've been eating it your whole life. It's not, as many people I talk to imagine, some kind of hot pink chemical goo, and maybe it reduces the quality of the ground beef but it's certainly not dangerous.
So who started the campaign to eradicate "pink slime" and why are they so against it? I have no idea, but whoever those people are, I would like to congratulate them for their public relations genius. With all the bad, cancer-causing chemicals we ingest every day in our food, our drinks, etc. they managed to put a target on something basically harmless just by changing its name from "finely textured lean beef" to "pink slime."
It's like telling all the parents in town a daycare provider is a socialist because they teach the kids to share their toys. Or starting a campaign against "animal bodily fluid," also known as milk.
Words are very powerful things, my friends. Learn how to make them stick and you can rule the world. Many a politician/company/product/law has been undone or risen to power based on whether they chose the words that defined them or had a label slapped on them that they couldn't shake.
One of the best ways to deal with this is to commit a sort of verbal jusitsu and turn the word around to use against your opponents. The Obama camp finally got that last week when they stopped telling supporters not to use the word Obamacare and Obama declared "You know what, let them call it Obamacare. Because I do care." Smart move, Mr. President. The same thing happened somewhere along the way with the Chruch of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. People used to use "Mormon" as a slur. If those same people travelled forward in time today, they would say "Ha ha, you're a Mormon" ... and then have all the wind taken out of their sails when they saw billboards and TV ads for the church in which members proudly declare "I'm a Mormon." How do you like them apples?
Of course, you can use words positively, too. That's the job of PR people, who say someone at an event was "imperfectly caught" rather than "dropped on their head" or that the product is "luxury" instead of "way too expensive."
Take a leaf out of their book. If your car is a broken-down old piece of junk, tell people you drive a "vintage classic." If you get your paper back and your professor has covered it with red pen corrections, tell your parents you got a lot of "mentoring" from someone experienced in the industry. Your kids aren't disobedient, they show creative initiative. You don't procrastinate, you live in the moment. You're not Facebooking, you're networking.
Make sure you're finely textured lean beef and not pink slime.