Every so often, someone points out that user—the software industry’s term for “the people who use our products”—may not be a perfect one.
Doesn’t it reveal a shallow, reductive view of the humanity? Or depict customers as machines? Isn’t user, you know, also what we call drug addicts?It’s easy to see why ‘users’ might cause contention. The phrase is criticized for its negative connotations and outdated use, and many argue that is has no place in the modern world. Just as ‘subjects’ grew inappropriate and was replaced with ‘participants’ in scientific studies, it is argued that the term ‘users’ is dehumanising. Those five letters may seem innocuous, but they potentially objectify your customers. Oxford Living Dictionary defines ‘user’ with three different meanings, two of which hold negative connotations:
- A person who uses or operates something.
- A person who takes illegal drugs; an addict.
- A person who exploits others.