Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fester is cranky when it comes to titles

I am the ultimate crank on titles. I don't like them. I don't really even like Mr. and Mrs., I don't like Dr., I don't like calling a judge “your honor”. I don't mind descriptive titles for what you do for a living, for instance accountant, engineer, store manager, florist, auto mechanic, etc. These to me do not represent an attempt to gain status, as much as they are descriptions of what you do and possibly your role within the limited confines of a specific organization, but not designed to elevate you above others in the wider world.

I recently got into an argument about the use of the word “doctor” when used in a non medical setting by someone with a PhD. I simply refuse to call a non-medical person “doctor”, I might call an MD “doctor” on occasion just to avoid conflict since I will often say I am going to the “doctor's office” and thus I tend to see calling an MD a doctor to be more descriptive than status elevating, but a PhD in accounting? I don't really care if they have an advanced degree I don't see how the title is descriptive of what they do and so I do not want to use the term. I don't have history on my side on this except among the Quakers who refuse to use titles that are designed to elevate one person over another. I am a friend with them on this.

Doctor is common in the US, so it is what brought up the argument, but if I lived somewhere with royalty I would refuse to call someone a duke or duchess, prince or princess as well. Simply put if you have a title that you use to make yourself feel like you are superior to another person, do not expect me to address you by it. I am fine with “John the auto mechanic”, but I am not okay with “Dr. John, the auto mechanic” who also has a PhD in art history, but found that he couldn't get a very good paying job with his education, and likes to act superior to his peers by calling himself “doctor”.

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