Recently I read about a woman railing against tech workers saying she reminds herself not to call tech employers “companies” but “corporations”, the better to maintain her indignation. Finding the words that vilify…. But why are “corporations” tainted and not “companies”? Is it just the assumption that most corporations are large companies and big is bad because big is powerful? Actually, most corporations are small to medium-sized, although it’s also true that most large companies are corporations. But large companies do us a lot of good. Per Corporations in the United States:

Large businesses are important to the overall economy because they tend to have more financial resources than small firms to conduct research and develop new goods. And they generally offer more varied job opportunities and greater job stability, higher wages, and better health and retirement benefits.

I think a better exercise would be to call corporations “companies”, the better to facilitate critical thinking and not lazy name-calling. The word “company” does not in itself conjure up much of anything, so it doesn’t function as a substitute for thinking. That’s what labels do.

Labels are a type of shorthand, mostly used to reduce and reject. Labels are rarely used to enhance value. Enhancing value often involves articulating in detail the rich variety and complexity of the thing thought about, i.e., the opposite of labeling.