COVID Buzzwords

The anti-COVID article COVID article.


By Maile Quenzer

In June of 2020, COVID-19 ruined everything. One day, students at Garfield were sitting in class, writing essays and taking exams, and the next, their lives had been turned upside down. But we all know that story. We were there. Today, the focus is not the pandemic itself, but the aftermath. Specifically, the way the media took hold of certain pandemic-associated words and phrases and ran with them: forever changing their meanings, feelings, and reactions they invoke.  

Here’s a hot take- I’m tired of pandemic news. It seems like we can’t even open our phones without seeing an article pop up about “The next new variant on course to set us back to phase one!” each with its own attention-grabbing headline using the newest and greatest Covid buzzword. Lately it seems like the media is obsessed with taking a word, and completely brutalizing it, until it’s left bare and meaningless. When I hear these words, they fill me with unspeakable anger and frankly, make me sick.    

How does the phrase ‘unprecedented year’ make you feel? When you hear it, does it take you back to those long, tedious months when our only solace was rewatching tv shows and Instagram stalking that one person you never thought was attractive until you had way too much free time? I know when someone says it to me, I fight back tears. After hearing it time after time, all it does is make me cringe. Like damn, we get it.  

When some students from Garfield were asked what their least favorite Covid buzzwords were, they gave a variety of relatable answers. Junior Kelly Bach told me her least favorite was ‘asynchronous learning’ as in everybody’s favorite way to spend an entire year of high school. When I asked sophomore Lou Williams, they told me they hate it when people, “unironically say things like ‘it’s been a weird year’ or ‘things have been… interesting.’ like, does it look like I’m laughing?” This has been a common sentiment throughout the media during this last year. People will try to gain relatability with phrases like these, but they are honestly the most boring and played-out takes you could give. Junior Imogen Rich says the one she hates the most is probably, ‘mask mandate’, like just wear it, why are we still talking about it!” she said, or maybe “quarantine, I’m sick of it, can we find a new word? it feels like World War Z.” Another commonality is taking the approach of displaying the pandemic as all-hell breaking loose on the World. Junior Isaac Fry says “I think ‘global pandemic’ is kinda annoying. It’s often used in a patronizing way and is just stating the obvious.”  

And finally, I polled the followers of the Messenger’s Instagram account on which words they thought were the worst from a list of my personal least favorite, and here were the results: 

Unprecedented: 65 vs Flatten the curve: 30

Attestation: 44 vs Waterfall in the chat: 46

Self quarantine: 47 vs Super spreader event: 47

Asynchronous: 70 vs Positive: 24

What it all boils down to is pure frustration with the constant reminders of the sorry excuse of a year we all just had that tend to be force-fed to us by the media. But soon enough, when we all decide to fixate on whatever’s coming next, these words will feel like yet another trend that aged poorly, and died quickly.