Remember how after September 11th happened, there was that nasty bill that formed the TSA and authorized all sorts of surveillance against the American people and they called it, ironically, The Patriot Act?
Of course, we knew then that the bill was anything but patriotic, however, that didnt stop it from being passed and trampling all over the Constitution. The word patriot was perverted by those in power who wanted everyone to fall into lockstep with the unconstitutional searches at airports and many other invasions into our privacy.
Which brings us to another word that doesnt mean what people think it means it was all done in the name of security.
If youve been watching any type of media coverage or reading articles, youve probably seen or heard a plethora of words and phrases which are currently being perverted due to the coronavirus pandemic. I dont know about you, but if I never heard safe or new normal again, Id be a much happier person.
If you feel like people are being brainwashed through repetition, thats because they are. Quite simply, these buzzwords and several others well discuss are being used to indoctrinate the public. As Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany, wrote:
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. (source)
Were incredibly divided right now and the words are being as fuel to the fiery arguments taking place both online and in-person, during altercations in which one party feels the other party is being callous and horrible.
Lets take a look at this hostile takeover of our vocabulary with a dozen words Id like to have stricken from conversations, advertising, and the media.
The new normal
While its absolutely true were never going back to normal like we were before the pandemic, theres a new normal being foisted upon us which is blatantly fueled by fear. Earlier on in the lockdown, I used this phrase a few times in reference to the economy. Sorry about that.
The new normal is most often used to get people to accept whatever unconstitutional or undignified rule that people in charge want us to find tolerable, like taped squares on the floor that were supposed to stand in while waiting in properly spaced lines. You know how cats will curl up in a taped-off square on the floor as though it was a box? Now they want humans to do that for the privilege of buying alcohol or food.
Other bizarre new normal activities are having your temperature taken by someone brandishing an infrared thermometer gun, scurrying around in a mask in stores trying to avoid other humans like youre playing some kind of weird game of tag, and publicly shaming those who dont act terrified because they clearly hate old people.
Were all in this together
The saccharine phrases were all in this together or were all in this together apart were bandied about early on in the lockdowns. Celebrities serenaded us badly with John Lennon songs. They made videos of themselves looking concerned at their mansions, telling us not to worry, because were all in this together. Except, of course, they still have millions of dollars in the bank and the rest of us werent supposed to go to work or open our businesses to make the money we need to survive.
Indeed, we all owe these celebrities an unfathomable debt of gratitude for reminding us that they, too, are in this together.
Social media outlets even made little frames for your profile pictures bearing those wildly annoying words. Articles encouraging us to hunker down in our homes reminded us that everyone, rich or poor, was in this together too. Its just that the rich people were in this together on yachts and private islands while the rest of us crammed into the kitchen on Zoom meetings with our employers while banning our kids from streaming anything so we had enough internet.
Stay home. Just stay home.
How many times did you hear this phrase early in the lockdown? You probably lost count at umpteen million. #StayHome was a viral hashtag on Twitter, people ended social media status updates encouraging others to just stay home, and we were all told that if we didnt stay home we were risking the lives of every person we loved and a few we hated because we were going to unconsciously spread the virus and kill people.
Clearly the only people who were asymptomatic were the a$$holes who wouldnt stay home. They were COVID Marys and COVID Marks, thoughtlessly spreading illness to old people and kids with cancer merely because they wouldnt just stay home.
In order to get us to all stay home stores in some states took to establishing what their government felt were essential purchases, and banning all other purchases even if you were already in the same store. (More on the word essential in a moment.) Thoughtless people didnt realize if you only bought lettuce or a gallon of milk, you wouldnt pass on your cooties. Cooties were only passed when you bought duvet covers or garden seeds.
Jeez. Stay home, you jerks.
Another phrase that makes me want to snarl viciously at those using it is social distancing. Ill admit, Ive always had an invisible personal space bubble I dont like having invaded, but the whole social distancing thing means now that stores have arrows telling you which way you can walk down an aisle and the afore-mentioned taped boxes or Xs on the floor for standing in an appropriately social-distanced line.
Due to social distancing we spent months being unable to visit with loved ones, go into restaurants to eat, or go into the liquor store aisles to select our own much-needed whiskey. Well continue socially distancing in all sorts of ridiculous ways in the new normal future, with venues only allowing a small portion of their former capacity of customers inside at a time.
Hand in hand with social distancing is the phrase six feet. If someone gets too close to you in the store, you can shout angrily from behind your mask, Six feet, mofo! and its perfectly acceptable. Six feet is the gold standard, the protective bubble that keeps you safe from getting COVID 19 when you cant stay home.
All those Xs on the floor of stores are measured out to be six feet apart. Children returning to school will have to stay six feet away from other children while marching around the playground in dismal formation. Offices are being redesigned so everyone can stay six feet away from everyone else.
The word essential has also been corrupted. If you were able to keep working throughout the entire lockdown, its because you were an essential worker doing an essential job. Essential was defined separately by the governor of each state, so it varied from place to place. My daughter, who works in a beauty supply store, was initially not essential but a month in when everyones roots began to show, she became essential and got the travel papers to prove it.
The word essential was also used to describe purchases that the government felt were important enough for you to be allowed to make in person, and for trips outside the home. It was essential to go to the grocery store, the doctor, the pharmacy, and out to walk your dog. However, the dog had to be walked on neighborhood streets with all the other people essentially walking their dogs, instead of on a trail out in the forest alone, because the trails were closed because they werent essential.
Depending on the business youre in, you may have heard the word pivot until you wanted to vomit. Small businesses were super-busy pivoting to try and stay afloat while loans meant for them went to billionaires and giant corporations. You could pivot by manufacturing something else something essential like hand sanitizer or by offering delivery or curbside pickup of your products.
Some of the pivoting was just different marketing. Buy this laundry soap, because were washing clothes for healthcare workers in it. Buy our car, because we support essential workers. Buy from us because heres how were keeping our employees safe.
Other pivots were allowing people to work from home, supporting your customers in different ways, and selling goods from an appropriate social distance, like literally selling new vehicles over the internet and dropping them off in peoples driveways.
Uncertain or unprecedented times
How many emails could possibly have the subject line starting with in these uncertain times or in these unprecedented times?
It turns out, a whole lot. I cant enumerate how many emails I got assuring me that various companies had my back in these uncertain times. Everyone from Victorias Secret to my internet service provider sent me a message letting me know how they were doing business in these unprecedented times.
Car brands had commercials about why you needed a particular vehicle during these uncertain times because we all definitely need a new car while the business that employs us is trying to pivot. Articles had headlines about handling these uncertain times. I confess, I too had an article about uncertainty early in the crisis. Again, sorry I used that word.
The continued use of this word makes people eager to latch on to anything that is certain. It makes them want to accept the new normal so they dont have to be so uncertain. And since all this is unprecedented we have no idea what that new normal is going to be, so it can be anything, no matter how draconian.
Flatten the curve
When the lockdowns were first announced back in March, the entire goal was to flatten the curve. That meant that hospitals would not be overwhelmed like the hospitals in Italy and China. Instead of a graph going straight up into the stratosphere, wed have a gentle hill, spacing out the illnesses.
Everything became about flattening the curve. You cant flatten the curve while going about your business. CBS News explained (while using 4 of our least favorite words and phrases):
Communities are being urged to practice social distancing, some schools are closing, sports and cultural events are being canceled, and companies are asking employees to work from home even if theyre not experiencing coronavirus symptoms. Many are wondering why they are essentially self-quarantined despite the fact that theyre not sick. The answer has to do with flattening the curve an answer that could leave some people confused.
Youve likely seen flattening the curve graphs being used in articles and shared on social media as a way to explain the importance of responding aggressively to curb the spread of the coronavirus. But what does it mean to flatten the curve, and how do we do it?
Friday on CBS This Morning, CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook explained what has become a buzzword in the wake of the outbreak.
Is it really worth while to do all of this social distancing and hand washing? The answer is yes, Dr. LaPook said. Normally, right now without any measures the epidemic might go up [sharply] and go down. That peak number of cases could overload the system and thats what people are worried about. (source)
The most overused word in this entire list of hijacked vocabulary has to be safe.
If taking a shot every time you heard or read the word safe was a drinking game, wed all be wasted by 9:30 am. Out of all the words I never want to use again, safe is the penultimate. The word was already hijacked somewhat by the safe spaces nonsense where people were supposed to go when they felt vulnerable because somebody said something mean or wore a MAGA hat around them.
Now, safe has crossed the Rubicon. Every other article on the internet is about remaining safe. Church marquees want you to stay away from service to be safe. Instead of saying bye or see ya later, the salutation when someone is leaving is now an implorement to stay safe.
Some things that used to be okay but now arent safe are: kids playing at a playground, adults shaking hands with other adults when doing business, going for a hike, eating at a table in a restaurant, getting your hair cut, or basically having fun in any way beyond playing a wild game of Scrabble against those with whom you are staying at home.
You all know that Ben Franklin quote about safety and liberty. Im not even going to quote it.
Dishonorable mentions: curbing the spread and wash your hands
While not used quite to the same dizzying level as the words above, Im also pretty sick of hearing about curbing the spread of the coronavirus and washing my hands.
First of all, every business that sent me an uncertain or unprecedented email wanted me to know what they were doing to curb the spread of the virus. Every White House or gubernatorial press conference explained with deep sincerity how following all the rules would result in a curb of the spread of COVID19. (Of course, they also said the lockdown was only going to be for 2 weeks, and here we are finally emerging 60 days later in some parts of the country, almost as long a time as I predicted in the analysis I wrote back in March when a whole bunch of readers said I was nuts and angrily unsubscribed. Let me also note that the lockdown has not yet been completely lifted in several highly populated parts of the US.)
And I was already washing my hands, thank you very much. If you need to be told to wash your hands as an adult, you clearly missed out on some important childhood lessons.
This is what brainwashing is like.
If you ever wondered what it was like brainwashing somebody, this is what its like. Having the same words used over and over, words that used to mean something, until they begin to come out of your mouth too. When you consistently hear these phrases and the opposite of these phrases is used to incite irrational fear, thats brainwashing.
Im not being a paranoid, tinfoil-tiara-wearing nutcase when I tell you that were all the targets of a mass media operation to make us accept this draconian outrageous new normal. When you hear things over and over again, when you hear a script coming from the mainstream media, from social media, your sucker of a neighbor who snitches on kids playing outside, and when every other article has one or more of these words in the headline, theres an agenda.
And that agenda is going to result in the loss of more freedom and the addition of more surveillance. (Anyone looking for a contact tracing job?)
Im not saying that this virus wasnt real or that it wasnt a public health threat. It was. The fact that things didnt get as bad as predicted doesnt mean that the measures taken were entirely unnecessary it means they worked. But it doesnt mean that those measures need to be continued forever and ever.
However as with all things, when the government gets a little bit of extra power and control, they become greedy for more. They didnt let this crisis go to waste, and they arent letting any grass grow under their feet while they plot to make all this nonsense permanent.
A fearful, indoctrinated populace is a populace that is easy to control.
What words are driving you nuts?
What words or phrases make you want to fling yourself (or the person using them) into oncoming traffic?
Maybe Im just cranky after being locked up for 2 months, but Im stunned all my teeth have survived without being cracked as I clench my jaw in annoyance every time I hear or read these phrases.
If you catch yourself using these words, please, for the love of kittens, STOP. Stop perpetuating the propaganda. And if I missed any of the new buzzwords that annoy the snot out of you, please let me know in the comments. Which words would you like to see stricken from public discourse?