9 New Terms That Have Emerged From the Pandemic
As with any major historical event or phenomenon, life during COVID calls for new terms. For the majority of Americans, “sheltering-in-place” and “social distancing” are novel experiences that no pre-existing term can describe. So naturally, the English language has experienced a deluge of neologisms during the pandemic. When future generations look back to this time, these new words will be artifacts of our angst and despair.
Despite these unprecedented times, people are still finding ways to “live their best life” corona-style. We’ve altered how we entertain ourselves, how we date, and formed new habits . Self-care takes on a new meaning in a pandemic as we find ways to cope. Here is the mashup of words the coronavirus has birthed that will likely be a part of our language for years to come.
Doomsday preppers and conspiracy theorist alike know there are interminable end-of-the-world scenarios, like bioterror, climate change, and nuclear war, just to name a few. Now add the coronavirus to the list. Not only does the pandemic continue to wipe out large portions of humanity, but it leaves us on the precipice of economic collapse. Add to that the civil unrest due to police brutality and racial profiling, and you’ve a recipe for your favorite dystopian disaster. Enter coronageddon- the idea that the coronavirus can bring on the end of modern civilization. Coronageddon is a portmanteau of coronavirus and Armageddon, the “cataclysmic final conflict” as noted in Christian Bible’s Book of Revelations. Armageddon comes from the Hebrew har mĕgiddōn ‘meaning hill of Megiddo’ the prophesied site for armies to gather in preparation for the final battle. Today, we use Armageddon to reference any existential risk. Another portmanteau, coronapocalypse has emerged. From the Greek apocalypse meaning ‘the uncovering’ of how the world ends, coronoapocalypse preposes that the pandemic has sparked chain reactions that will lead to the end as we know it. Is it irreversible? Is it too late? Only time will tell.
It’s safe to say the 2020 has been a hellscape of a year, especially for Americans. The virus, police brutality, protests, hurricanes, wildfires, and this election are enough to make you want to invest in a bunker and stockpile it with food, water, and toilet paper. And since everyone is stuck at home, we’re all on our phones, and millions of people are scrolling through Twitter feeds and Facebook to pass the time. If your timeline is anything like mine, you’re inundated with hundreds of pandemic-related memes and articles. And instead of unplugging, you delve deeper into the rabbit hole of gloom and doom. In true COVID-style, we have a name for that: doomscrolling or doomsurfing. Kathy Katella of Yale Medicine defines doomsurfing as “relentlessly searching the internet for coronavirus-related content during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Doomscrolling only sends you spiraling into anxiety and fear. Some advice: put the phone down, walk away, and get some fresh air.
It was Jay-Z who first told me that women lie, men lie, numbers don’t lie. However, the politics of the coronavirus might say otherwise. Are our numbers up? Are our infection rates higher than other first-world nations? Or do we have higher rates because we test more? What’s number of cases in your city? Your state? Welcome, you’ve bought a ticket for a ride on coronacoaster, a word that describes the ups and downs of your mood during the pandemic. Like my favorite meme says- “one day you’re loving your bubble and baking banana bread, the next you’re crying and drinking wine for breakfast.” And your emotional fluctuations are valid. With schools, stores, restaurants, and offices closed, the streets look like a scene from I Am Legend. People find happiness in whatever ways they can, but it’s okay to grieve the loss of the world we once had.
Prior to the pandemic, how many people had videoconferenced via Zoom? Apparently, not many, as a report indicates that Zoom’s daily usage has increased by almost 30% since December 2019. Zoom has become a fixture in many people’s lives, both for work and socializing. Apparently, Zoom is expanding its features to include OnZoom, a virtual marketplace, and Zoom apps, a feature that integrates third-party apps to be used during Zoom sessions. It’s great to see technology adapting to meet our needs in the midst of COVID-19. Yet, with the increase of Zoom usage comes unwanted attention from disruptors. Enter Zoombombing, a portmanteau of Zoom and photobombing. It’s akin to photobombing, where an uninvited person jumps into someone’s picture for laughs. But Zoombombing is no joke. Zoombombers are internet trolls that hijack Zoom sessions and interject lewd imagery, and racist, homophobic, and antisemetic epithets to derail meetings. There have been attacks on Alcoholic Anonymous meetings with Zoombombers flashing pictures of alcohol. Zoom has added security protections to prevent Zoombombing. But unfortunately, Zoombombing is a word and a phenomenon that is likely here to stay.
The term “self-care” takes on a new meaning while millions of people are hunkered down at home. With salons and barbershops closed, some people are forced to forgo their typical grooming efforts; others have gone the DIY route and cut their own hair. But if you are like me, you have no clue what you’re doing, leaving you with a jacked-up haircut, reminiscent of the bowl cuts your Mom used to try to give you. Have you gave yourself a terrible haircut because of the coronavirus? Worry not, just tell all your friends you have a coronacut. Thankfully, we are all in this quandary together, leaving thousands of people with uneven hairlines and oddly-angled bobs. A word of advice: before picking up a pair of clippers, hone your styling skills by watching video tutorials to spare yourself from embarrassment. On the other hand, we’re all at home, so ultimately, does it really matter? Don your coronacut and wear it proudly!
I’m sure we all know at least one anti-maskers or someone that ignores social distancing protocols. As early as April, Marylanders stormed the state capitol to protest coronavirus closures of schools and business- and many were mask-free. Never mind that we are in the midst of a pandemic that today is killing a person every minute. If you are describing a person like this in general conversation, pare down your words with the newly-formed word covidiot, a portmanteau of covid and idiot. Covidiots flooded the beaches during spring break, were still going to parties, and basically said fuck social distancing. According to Health.com, there are several reasons for covidiotic behavior: they theorize that the virus is a hoax; they don’t realize the gravity of the situation; they believe they are immune to the virus; they are rebelling; they are impulsive; or they are motivated by self-interests over public safety. Some covidiots take a political stand against coronavirus protocols, as leaders like Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, and Rand Paul condemn social distancing and mask-wearing . The worst kind of covidiots are the ones that treat the virus as an opportunity for the ubiquitous internet phenomena; the #coronaviruschallenge is one in which participants lick toilet seats, purposely putting themselves at risk for laughs. But this virus is no laughing matter. Do the world a favor covidiots and sit yourself down.
You’ve baked all the muffins you can stand, done all the DIY projects you promised yourself you’d do for the past five years, and have had your fill of Zoom parties. But none of these activities can ease the malaise you feel while socially distancing yourself from friends and family. The isolation has you on the verge of madness. So you decide to abandon the social distancing orders to curb your isolation and get together with a few friends. How can you do this with a modicum of safety? Form a quaranteam that you can hunker down with and…bake muffins, do DIY projects and do a gaggle of TikTok challenges. Yes, you are doing the same activities you were doing alone, but somehow it feels better to do them with a friend. A quaranteam is a group of people you chose to live with during social distancing orders. Psychologists note that this is completely natural; humans crave interaction, so quarantining is extremely difficult for most people (aside from the life-long misanthropes). While not risk-free, quaranteaming is a means of resiliency, a way to maintain mental and emotional health. The virus highlights how we take minor interactions for granted, but quaranteaming seeks to mitigate this. The best way to quaranteam is to keep teams small and only hunker down with people that you trust will abide by tight protocols. The next time you are at home feeling lonely, just remember, “you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your quaranteam.”
So here we are locked down with no end in sight. How do we cope with this harrowing experience? How do we deal? For the average adult, alcohol helps. Yes, alcohol and a lot of it. Zoom happy hours are now on trend and a way to connect without being in person. So what’s your drink of choice? These days, many are opting for coronaritas; others are knocking back quarantinis like there’s no tomorrow. So what exactly is in a quarantini? Whatever you want it to be! As long as it gets you drunk enough to forget that this “movie” is real life. A scientist from the University of South Florida reports that there has been a rise in alcoholic purchases, particularly amongst mothers in their 40s. It’s understandable. Maintaining one’s home, homeschooling, and keeping kids engaged, on top of working from home is enough to overwhelm the average person. Add to that fears of spreading the virus to loved ones most at risk, and you’ve got a recipe for alcoholic self-medication. Just remember to drink responsibly and in moderation. And seek professional support if you suffer from anxiety, paranoia, or depression. Alcohol only exacerbates these very serious mental health concerns.
Coronials, quaranteens, and coronababies
Take one couple trapped in the house, add bottomless quarantinis (because what’s a designated driver during COVID), shake and stir. The result: is copious coitus that leads to “a baby in the baby carriage.” Yes, life still goes on during the coronavirus, including new life. Babies born during the pandemic are coronababies, who in thirteen years will be quaranteens, members of the coronial generation. While people may imagine stormy love leading to disaster-induced babies, demographers believe we are more likely to experience a baby bust than a baby boom. As Kenneth Johnson of the University of New Hampshire notes, most people are not thinking about having children during a pandemic. Additionally, a downturn in the economy impacts pregnancies, and with unemployment at a record high, many families have postponed having a baby. COVID-related income loss is likely to continue beyond the pandemic, which may mean lower birthrates beyond 2021. However, the baby bust could prove advantageous for coronials, as they could learn in smaller classes and have a “slightly easier time getting into college or landing a job.” Conversely, the pandemic could cause higher birth rates in some nations because of diminished access to contraceptives. Regardless, with the health risks the world is currently facing, our coronababies are nothing short of a blessing.
Coronavirus has married couples trapped in their houses with spouses. This could either be a time for bonding and good loving or the beginning of the end for the more tenuous relationships. Divorces during the pandemic are termed covidivorces, and more people are inquiring about how to get one according to clinical psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Cohen. This makes sense; spending more time with your spouse only highlights what couples could previously escape from through work and social outings. Marital complaints now include their partner’s responses to the pandemic. Some are ubercautious, wiping down every bottle or box that enters the house, while others ignore social distancing altogether. Patience is short, and what was overlooked pre-pandemic is now deemed unforgivable. Additionally, money issues, the fifth leading cause of divorce, may escalate during the pandemic due to job loss putting a major strain on marriages. However, some reports indicate that divorce has decreased during the pandemic. The American Family Survey found 58% of families have a deeper appreciation for their spouse. A Virginian wife and mom says the pandemic was initially stressful, but she and her husband rearranged their schedules to accommodate family needs. They go for walks and talks which increases quality time spent together. It’s clear that covidivorces are hard on people and can impact their mental health. Be sure to reach out to your friends in the midst of a covidivorce. They could certainly use the love and support.