First published in Modern English Teacher, 2006
MacJobs entered the language some time ago. A MacJob is useless, non-productive, temporary and part time; like working in MacDonalds. MacJobs have been replacing real jobs throughout the Western world. You can even use MacJob for lesser units of work, so an ELT author tired from ten hours of proof-reading could refer to the task as a MacJob. Something that merely keeps you busy.
MacJobs are often associated with Douglas Coupland’s novel Generation X. I was discussing this at a reception after MEXTESOL a few years ago where Bill Bryson had been the plenary speaker. He told us that it predated Coupland and had first been coined in the Kansas City Star. As Bryson’s Made in America is the best book I’ve read on British and American English, I’m sure he’s correct.
MacJobs are related to MacDonaldization, part of the process of globalization. American friends pointed me to the interesting use of the InterCap. It’s MacJob with a capital J and M, not Macjob or macjob. It reflects its origin with the name MacDonalds, as Scottish and Irish surnames are well-established examples of the InterCap … MacPherson, O’Neill. Another example is DisneyWorld. It’s InterCap not intercap, too.
So what’s the opposite of a MacDonaldized system? I was delighted to see the word UnCola on a music website, referring to a rock group that had not succumbed to the corporate ethos (The Band, in fact). The Band were UnCola while Boyzone are … well, the opposite. And everyone understood it and started using it in responses. This is what my informant told me when I praised such an interesting coining (as I thought):
“7-Up’s sales lagged far behind cola drinks, partly because it was considered unhip uncool, mostly for oldsters. It’s traditional slogan was “You Like It; It Likes You”, presumably because it was less gassy or stomach-upsetting than colas. In the late Sixties or early Seventies, the ad folks for 7-Up launched a major campaign dubbing it the “UnCola”. Sort of an “It’s Hip To Be Square!” attempt to make it an “in” drink. They had some clever ads and twists, like manufacturing glasses in the inverted shape of the classic Coke fountain glass. As far as I know, the UnCola concept never worked nearly as well as its creators hoped.”
Maybe Macintosh computers reflect their UnCola image by avoiding the “MacJob” InterCap.