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Selflessness

Last night, my flatmate asked the question of whether it is possible to do anything in a selfless way, or whether everything one does can be traced back to one's own interests. I am not fit for these kinds of philosophical arguments anymore, so we pursued another topic instead.

Today I am sitting on a Swiss flight and am being bombarded by commercials on the stationary television screens they use for safety instructions and the onboard entertainment.

Swisscom purchased advertising space, and there they proudly let us know, in German, English, and French that "1 million kids in Switzerland jump for joy as Swisscom brings free Internet access to their schools. Simply so." (sic).

When I read this, I first though: why the heck are Swiss schools still in need of Internet connections? Why do we tolerate an economy or situation in which the Internet isn't ubiquitous yet?

And then, my mind suddenly made the connection to last night's discussion on selflessness: even though Swisscom is trying to communicate that they're being selflessly good by providing access to the school's, they obviously aren't, or they wouldn't be using the factoid for advertising.

The curious aspect is that I wouldn't normally have absorbed their message or linked it to last night's discussion. The reason that I did is because of the gross errors in their English translation.

The German "einfach so", which I think they translated wrongly, suggests that they did something without any particular reason. I am not a native English speaker, but "simply so" doesn't exist, and it (thus) doesn't have that meaning.

Dear Swisscom, and all other companies who think that English is hip, or who actually want to reach out beyond the borders of four-language-Switzerland: consider employing someone who can speak the language to help with your marketing. Even if you want to let the world think that what you do is without commerical interests.

NP: The Flower Kings: Unfold the Future

Update: initially, I criticised Swisscom for using "jumping for joy", which makes no sense to me. Apparently, however, it's an idiom. I should have checked, especially since I am criticising the use of a language non-native to me. Thanks to the various people who wrote in for kindly pointing out my mistake.