...: Marsh Chatter
A Definition: "User" = derogatory
Yes, that's right! I believe calling someone a " user" is actually an insult and many times is meant to be an insult. If you've spent any time on a helpdesk you know exactly what I mean. The comments "offline" are definitely meant as a negative. Many comics directed at, or about, the technology arena persist this interpretation (e.g. user = dumb). And there is even a line of books which insult people by calling them dumb (although the assumption is, it's not meant negatively - alas, assume is making an… ok not going there).
I formed this opinion "way back" in the 1980's. In fact, I was of the opinion that it was a negative term before that, as a result of its popular use in the 1970's to define "people who use illegal drugs" - hence the negative connotation was built-in even before PC's became popular.
Yes… I am, on the outside of the box, relative to the norms in the Information Technology arena. That's fine… it's OK every now and then, to swing from different trees than the rest of the monkeys!
There are many who argue "for" its usage because it is more general in nature. In fact, I even read content from one person who said "get over it". Alas, not gonna happen here. I refer to groups of people using positive "names" in all cases except for one. See entry on junk mailers/posters.
SO… you say, how do I describe, call, or write about "people who use computers". Well, really now, it's not so hard. I call them my family, my co-workers, my customers, and my friends. If you fall back to using the word "user" - you're taking the easy way out and in the process insulting those around you.
How soon we forget our first day picking up a book about computers and our first tap, tap, tap at the keyboard - yes, even you didn't "get it" at some point. Help the person learn - don't make like you're a gate keeper of all things computing. No matter how you feel about "those people" - without them, our work has no reason to exist! If you find yourself making negative comments and saying "users!" - then you might not be in the right "job" and maybe it's time to seek other employment avenues, not people related.
Change your language to weed out this word and you will find that your marketing content, blog entries, and help content "sounds" much more positive. A side benefit: your attitude changes relative to your interactions with those around you. Go ahead… kick and scream. Say it's too in-grained in the lexicon. Well, it might be… but does that mean you have to jump off the bridge, too?