Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Word-of- the-Year is “Surreal” In Donald Trump’s America

Surreal Statue of Liberty
The word-of-the-year for 2016 is "surreal."
Every year the folks who do the dictionaries choose a “Word of the Year.” For 2017, Merriam-Webster has chosen “surreal” and Oxford Dictionary has chosen “post-truth” It is easy to see that Donald Trump is the reason for those choices.

The dictionary definition of surreal is “marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream.” The word is used to express a reaction to something shocking or surprising; something we don’t want to believe, something that is beyond reality. Merriam-Webster chooses this word because of the high frequency of people looking up the definition of this word.

The Oxford Dictionary looks for a new word that adds significantly to the English language. It looks like they feel we are in a post-truth era. They define “post-truth.” as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
Here are my suggestions for some other words of the year.

Normalize: It is a verb meaning “to make normal.” I don’t think I have ever heard the word used in everyday speech before. Now it is most commonly being used in connection with Donald Trump. He constantly does such outrageous things—you could describe them as both surreal and post-truth—things that are so far out of the bounds of what we consider normal behavior in politics and governance that we need to be careful not to normalize them, that is, to consider them as normal behavior.

Fake-News: It is noun used to represent a news story that looks like a truthful news story and appears to be from a legitimate news organization, but is actually totally untrue, a completely fabricated piece of political propaganda. This also is a term I have never heard before. During the presidential campaign of 2016, fake news was a potent weapon used primarily against Hillary Clinton and liberal causes. Fake-news has become a money-making industry. It is click-bait to conservatives who share it on social media making the creators of these lies very rich when their articles go viral.

The latest twist on fake news is that Republicans are calling real news “fake news.” For instance, data from the Congressional Budget Office was recently called fake news. It is Bizzaro World.

Trump-proof: This term can be used as either a verb or an adjective. It refers to actions taken to preserve the Obama legacy. President Obama is using executive action to create regulations that will be very difficult for Republicans to undo.

Egocentric/Narcissist: These are not new words, but I have rarely heard them used to describe a presidential candidate as often as they were used this year to describe Donald Trump. I believe if Trump was examined by a psychiatrist he would be diagnosed with “personality disorder,” and possible “sociopathic.”

Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear: These are the code names for the hackers Putin used to disrupt the election by hacking the emails of the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta. All the intelligence agencies I the U.S. are positive that the hacking was done at the behest of Putin. Only Donald Trump denies it which leads me to the last word for 2016—useful idiot.

Useful Idiot: The Russians were interfering with the presidential election because Putin evident wanted a “useful idiot as president. Among spies, a useful idiot is a person who betrays his country without even knowing it because he is too stupid to know it.

Now my nomination for the word of the year for 2018: Trumpism. This word is a noun used to describe governmental policies that are reckless and based on ignorance. It will be important not to normalize these surreal and post-truth polices and the fake-news that will be promoting them.

I’ve written this in a light-hearted way, but I am really really scared. People are going to die because we will have a fool for a president. I don't want to live in a surreal world. 

© Catherine Giordano 2017

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