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COVID talk: A lesson in linguistics

CM 21/04/2021


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I hate everything about COVID. Not because I’m afraid of it. I already caught it. So the haters can already spare their efforts of wishing it upon me. 
Rather it’s been a disturbing exercise in groupthink and the ease in which people can give up their beliefs, life’s work, and basic logic – quicker and easier than one would have ever imagined.
This, of course, is all backed by a new language. COVID-19 talk. Which anyone who knows anything about revolutions and propaganda knows, is a major influence in shaping people’s thoughts, opinions, judgments and even the very events that transpire.
There has been a long list of “new” terms that have irked me, starting from day one and “flattening the curve.” Remember that vague term that was tossed around? The reason people went into lockdown the first time? Those essential two weeks in which the world was convinced to buckle down to turn this all around?
Let’s be honest. When you first heard this term, did you really think about what it meant? Or how it was going to be done? How flat would be flat enough? To me it always sounded vague, non-definitive, and well, kind of exactly what led us down this quagmire of a path we ended up on.
Flattening the curve, of course, was quickly thrown out the window, and I can’t remember the last time I heard it mentioned, as the goalposts swiftly moved. In countries like New Zealand and Australia, flattening the curve morphed into eradication, while here in Israel, it became clear there was no clear achievement to reach to free us from our imprisonment.
Next came shelter in place, lockdown and social distancing. 

I mean, wow, “shelter in place” – like freeze on the spot and don’t move any further so that virus doesn’t track you down. If needed, hide under a rock. Preferably without a breeze. That certainly is a strongly emotive term.
“Lockdown” is just as dreadful, and frankly a concept so bizarre, that who even knew a year ago it was a term, let alone an option for how one could live one’s life? Yet we somehow quickly adapted, and even found people who were practically begging the government to lock them down even more! Fun times really. 
“Social distancing” is clearly a very useful activity. Particularly in large urban environments, where it is almost impossible to avoid human contact. This way, lack of compliance can be used as an excuse as to why COVID continues to spread in the blame game many people have joined. 
“It’s because of you evil people who refuse to distance that we’re in this, after all! Now let me order some more cupcakes or paint-by-numbers online, so those “essential workers” can continue to manufacture them and deliver them to me.” 
And since essential workers are defined by serious ministries like the US Department of Homeland Security as those who “conduct a range of operations and services that are typically essential to continue critical infrastructure operation,” we can feel righteous and smug in randomly ordering knick-knacks at whim, because you know, if I order online, I’m being okay. 
P.S. – If you own a business, I’m pretty sure you would see it as essential, (to your livelihood that is), whatever it is.
WHICH BRINGS me to another word I’ve come to loathe: “safe.” What does that even mean and who are we referring to? To a well-off family in American suburbs, they may feel fabulously safe hunkering down in their spacious home. In fact, sheltering in place and social distancing with Netflix and popcorn and a backyard pool may fit them like a glove. To people in crowded apartments, not so much. Especially with kids. They need exercise, and gasp, even to go to the park. Oddly enough, exceptions were always made for dog walking. Children, not so much.
I feel similarly about the use of “hygiene.” And how people rant that if only people kept apart AND washed their hands we would be safe. I mean, how dirty do people assume others are? Humanity has survived a pretty long time with whatever handwashing was going on until now. But if you enjoy washing down the surface of each milk carton that comes into your possession, then I say go for it. 
“Masks” came into the equation only later in the game, if you recall. They are so beloved by the fearful, that it’s hard to imagine people spent months during COVID walking around without them, even entering stores and riding public transportation. Now, they’re the symbol of the times, the savior of humanity, and so effective, that many places encourage you to wear two!
But do you remember just moments before COVID hit, when human rights activists were up in arms over women being forced to cover their faces? It was seen as a crime, and in many places, outright banned. Like an actual crime to wear one. Look it up, and you’ll see for yourself how many European countries were onboard, forbidding people to cover their faces in public. Wonder if after COVID mask time passes, this will be a popular issue again?
Oh, and the waste. All those disposable masks after so many efforts to limit plastic cups, bags, and other single-use products. We care about the long-term environmental impact or we don’t? I’m getting confused. Right, let me guess, you’re going to tell me there’s a crisis at hand, which trumps all other issues. Okay…
Along these lines, as you have likely noticed, many people became health experts, on whichever side of the lockdown debate they stood, knowingly talking about the “viral load,” “herd immunity” and “antibodies.” The one I like least of that lot is viral load, and the authoritative way in which many are certain, whichever new strain “they’ve” discovered, is higher in, hence far more dangerous and contagious than the one before. “Contagious “of course being another annoying reference, since I thought we were afraid of dying, not simply catching something. 
Eventually we got to the “jab.” Where’s my vomit emoticon for this one? Your friendly little poke, I guess they’re trying to say. Although it is not a previously unheard of term, more commonly I recall people getting a flu shot rather than a flu jab. But it shows you how semantics are used when making a sell. And btw, I will admit, it has worked well in Israel – hopefully bringing us back from the dark side once and for all.
Here in Israel we seem to be nearing the end of this “epidemic.” If this is the case, I can only hope that all media publications in particular will drop the “novel” bit in describing this thing. 
Merriam-Webster actually added a list of new terms to its dictionary to meet the times, including several I’ve failed to mention like “super-spreader,” “contact tracing” and “index case.” It also revised its entry on the word “novel” to incorporate coronavirus as a primary use of the term – as in not previously identified, like the “transmission of a novel coronavirus.”
I do, however, hope they remember to eventually update that, as by their own definition of novel, it may soon be dated. 
Disclaimer for those who have gotten this far: Yes, I know that COVID is a real and actual virus. Yes, I know that for some, like all viruses, it is lethal. No, I am not a denier or a conspiracy theorist. And no, like the majority of those reading I am neither a scientist nor a doctor. Yet we all somehow manage to have opinions on a range of topics like local politics, though I’m guessing again, few of us are MKs.
The writer is a freelance content creator living in central Israel with her husband and two sons.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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