Doomscrolling through the Twindemic

Given how much the Coronavirus pandemic has dominated all aspects of our lives in 2020, it is hardly a surprise that it continues to be responsible for the majority of the new words and phrases which have emerged so far this year. Indeed, The Global Language Monitor’s recent analysis has shown how the pandemic has dominated language this year in a way that other events have not previously managed.

Wordability would probably exhaust itself if it tried to catalogue every neologism which has sprouted up across the world, so is instead contenting itself with occasional forays into those words which might have more longevity than just being the lastest buzzword in the Urban Dictionary.

There are three interesting words which have emerged in the last couple of months, all of which seem to neatly encapsulate different aspects of what the pandemic has done to the world.

MasksMost recent is Twindemic, coined in August as a neat way to sum up what we might be facing in the northern hemishpere if Coronavirus and the flu season present simultaenous peaks. At the moment, discussion of how to avoid such a scenario is rife in the media, even if it is unclear how this is to be avoided. But we are in for a rough ride if the term Twindemic moves from being the subject of speculative articles to a standard term on our front pages.

Of course, for people who can’t stop themselves hunting for bad news relating to Covid, this term will already be old hat. That is because they can’t stop themselves Doomscrolling. This word, or Doomsurfing as it is sometimes used, means the relentless scrolling for news about the pandemic, despite the realisation that this continued search for information is not actually good for you. News media around the globe reported massive boosts in traffic in the early part of the year, confirming the insatiable appetite for pandemic news and the number of people who must therefore have been doomscrolling to get it. If we do move into a Twindemic phase later this year, expect there to be more doomscrollers as a result.

Separate to all of this, as we settle into our new normal, is the question of what impact the sudden stop of human activity has had on the planet around us. We all enjoyed the sight of animals venturing into deserted towns and villages, with sheep on roundabouts proving particularly popular as viral videos.

But scientists have been able to use this time to study the long-term impact of the sudden loss of human activity, followed by its gradual re-emergence, and have dubbed this phase the Anthropause. It seems very likely that this term could have a very long lifespan, as studying the impact of this year on the wider world will prove a rich seam of research for many years.

As the year rolls on, it is a raging certainty that new words will continue to emerge to encapsulate the phases of the pandemic which we are yet to experience. However, it seems likely that these three will continue to gain some traction as they all describe aspects of the situation which are unlikely to go away any time soon.

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