Thursday, May 14, 2020

Stay In! And Learn Some New Vocabulary!

Merriam Webster's "Words We're Watching": Infodemic

by Peggy Robin

In this new quarantined world we inhabit, we need some new vocabulary to describe what we’re seeing and doing. We are an inventive species, and if many of us are not going to work as usual, we can sit around at home coming up with ways to occupy ourselves, and then we must create new terms to describe our activities and thoughts. Some of them are actually useful, and others….not so much, but perhaps amusing (?). You be the judge:  

Quarancleaning. It’s what millions of homebound people are doing with their time – cleaning out closets, donating outgrown clothing and unneeded furniture, ecycling their outmoded electronics, and reducing the clutter in the spaces where they now live, work, play, and home-school their children, as well as eat and sleep. 

Disastertising. You know a disastertisement when you hear that voiceover, rich in the tones of deep concern, conveying the company’s commitment to the greater good in this time of crisis, and making sure you know just how much they care. We are stronger and better, we are reassured, due in no small measure to the company's warm, comforting pizza delivery, or their stepped-up production of toilet paper, or their reduced rates on your car insurance. Some companies honed their skill at disastertising during Hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy. But the all-time undisputed master of disasterizing is BP oil, which, after having caused the oil spill that left the Gulf Coast despoiled for years on end, spent millions on commercials to tell you how hard they were working to make things come back even better than before. Never even a nod to any of the company's violations of safety or environmental rules that led to the catastrophe in the first place. Want to know more about the phenomenon of disasterising? Bob Garfield of "On the Media" explains it all for you in an entertaining but at the same time, depressing, podcast, “The Art of Disasterising”: 

. It’s like a staycation, except it’s not by choice. You are staying home during your time off work due to the coronavirus lockdown -- not because you thought it would be more relaxing or more economical to forgo travel to some far-flung, exotic isle, but because you must. Many people used to look forward to a staycation as a chance to unwind, to appreciate the tourist attractions in their own hometown, or just have a little quiet time at home to devote to their own interests. Hard to gin up the same sort of enthusiasm when the reason you’re not straying beyond your front door is that you don't know what dangerous particles are hanging about in the air out there.  

The Covid-15. It’s the extra 15 pounds you gain as you spend more time at home baking goodies, and cooking giant pots of pasta with cream sauces, and snacking on nachos while binge-watching the latest Netflix series. 

Doomsurfing. It’s like channel surfing or net-surfing, but instead of flipping from channel to channel or from website to website looking for something eye-catching, funny, or fascinating (like cats playing the piano), as you would have done in normal times, now you keep searching out the latest coronavirus statistics, looking to see if the curve is flattening or spiking. And you're finding and forwarding articles that purport to prove whatever theory you already believe to be true about the origins of the virus. You're reading celebrity obituaries. You're tweeting and retweeting corona-memes -- not even aware that all your friends and relatives have been deleting unread every catastro-piece you send them.  

Zoom. It’s now a noun, a verb, a gerund, an adjective, and the first half of any number of new compound words. Here’s a sampling of usages: “We haven’t zoomed today but we’ll catch up on our zooming over the weekend.” “My uncle’s pretty zoom-adept but my aunt is completely zoom-challenged.” “My zoom-dates have all been duds.” “If I reconnect with my ex, maybe we can become zoom-mates.” “He’s OK, I guess, and we’ll text each other from time to time – but he’s not really zoom-worthy.” And then there's this: “I’ve had two meetings that were zoom-bombed – one by my boss’s cat jumping down on his laptop and the other by my kid who made me look like I had devil horns."  

Covidiot. You know ‘em when you see ‘em. They’re the people who show up at mass gatherings, not wearing masks, and when interviewed by local news, say things like, “I’m not worried, I’ve got a strong immune system” and "I've got a right to go wherever I want." It's the guy who brushes by you on the narrow sidewalk, not giving you a chance to step aside, and he acts as if you have inconvenienced him. It’s the Facebook friend who posts conspiracy theories about the virus having been cooked up in a lab by [insert name place or cabal of people to be blamed]. In a case of poetic injustice, the covidiot never seems to get sick, unless you count their infection with “moronavirus.”  

Coronapocalypse or Coronageddon. Both call to mind the terms, “Snowpocalypse” or “Snowmageddon,” but while that strange interruption in Normal Life lasted just for just a few days in winter, this time it goes on and on and on…..and it really does feel like The End of the World as We Know It. We’ll all have to wait to see whether we can finish off the iconic song with those final words, “I feel fine.”    
The Stay In! Column is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous narrative, timely, and amusing. I'd summarize the paragraphs as "Pun-damonium" or even "Pim-demoaning". Bravo, Peggy.