The One Pandemic Buzzword I Am Most Fed up With

It’s not one of the obvious ones

Image by Наркологическая Клиника from Pixabay

We’ve had a long tiring year of lockdowns, layoffs, face masks, restrictions, and closings. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of new words and phrases have entered the lexicon.

This is not your grandfather’s blog post… this is an awards ceremony. It’s time to hand out an award for the most hated, the most overused COVID-related word or phrase.

It’s one you’ve heard dozens of times since the beginning of the pandemic. But it’s one you’ve probably overlooked.

It may even be something you read quite recently, without even realizing it.

Honorable mention: Social distancing

6 feet of distance, 6 feet of distance, 6 feet of distance. Yes, it’s a good practice during a pandemic, but this became one of the most overused terms of all.

I remember when my city’s tourism bureau hosted an online virtual DJ night at an otherwise-closed hotel bar. They had to splash “Socially Distanced” on the screen so viewers at home could breathe a sigh of relief that the DJ, the cameraman, and the hotel staff were all 6 feet apart, because if one of them came within 5 feet, 11 inches of each other, surely the whole city would die.

Honorable mention: Flatten the curve

As with social distancing, this admittedly is a good idea and a noble plan. It’s just a term we’re all sick of hearing, one we will be ready to retire when we reach herd immunity.

Honorable mention: Zoom happy hour

Half the people are all talking at the same time, and half the people have no idea what is going on… wow, it really is like being at the bar!

Honorable mention: The new normal

All this term did was remind everyone how much they missed the old normal. This is everything we hate about current times, rolled up into three words, three words that could have easily won the award… but…

Honorable mention: Stay home

The rebellious only child in me hates to be told to do anything, even if it is for my own good and the good of the community.

What really twisted the dagger was that in my city, the stay-home order was in effect March 23-May 3, the most beautiful and temperate time of the year. Complying with the order would have been so much less painful if it had been a January-February thing.

Honorable mention: Alone, together

A campaign put together by a marketing company, complete with a website and TV commercials, to try and convince everyone to do the right thing. The trouble was, it screamed “slick marketing campaign” and really didn’t motivate anyone.

They should have hired a superstar in the world of promotion to get their point across. The GEICO gecko would have been a good choice. Or the Aflac duck. Hell, even Flo from Progressive would’ve been an improvement.

Honorable mention: X

Okay, so this one’s not technically a word or phrase, but a letter. The letter X. Specifically, an X on the floor made with masking tape, to mark where you can be socially distanced as you wait in line.

X marks the spot to stand waiting in line for a cocktail at a lounge not far from the author’s home, May 2020, a few days after Phase II of reopening began.

Honorable mention: Virtual dance party

You can host a virtual dance party! You can host an online game night! There’s so much you can do! And it’ll be just as fun as if it were in person! Really!

No. Not really.

Honorable mention: Physical distancing

Shortly after stay-home orders were issued everywhere back in the spring, there was a campaign to call it physical distancing rather than social distancing. “We want you to be social… we just want you to keep your distance!”

It sucks no matter what you call it, so who cares?

Honorable mention: Preachy Twitter screen names

I’m talking about the name that appears above the Twitter user’s tweet in bold, not their @ handle. Let me give you a few examples:

Commissioner Sami Tanner Says Stay Home!
Justin “Just-STAY-in” Barnes
Cole “Mask Your Stupid Mouth” Katrinson

Seriously, people, is ANYONE going to be more likely to follow safety protocols because you commanded them to in your screen name? Get over yourselves.

And the winner is…


Let me use that in a few sentences:

County health officer: “As the weeks go on, we’re moving in the direction of gradually reopening more businesses, with restrictions… BUT, let me stress, things are not going to be the way they were before COVID for quite some time.”

Independent data analyst: “We saw a 12% drop in cases this week… BUT, testing dropped 27% in the same period, indicating that cases are likely going unreported, so the news is not nearly as good as it sounds.”

Television reporter: “The Health Department tells us that we’ve seen a decline in case numbers and positivity rate following the post-Labor Day surge… BUT, Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner, so we can expect more surges.”

Good news, BUT, tempered with bad news. One step forward, BUT, two steps back.

Over it.

Now for the good news…

This isn’t permanent. Eventually, enough people will receive the vaccine. Herd immunity will develop. Restrictions will be lifted. People will feel safe to come out again.

At that point, I believe we’ll see the return of two terms from 100 years ago:

The Roaring Twenties (The Roaring 2020s, that is)

A Return to Normalcy (the old normal, not the new)

I truly believe we are on the verge of an era of indulgence and decadence not seen since the Studio 54 era of the late 1970s. And I am here for it.

I’ll leave you with a few lines from Chuck Mead’s “I Ain’t Been Nowhere,” a COVID-era remake of a classic Johnny Cash song:

You ask me how I’m doin’
And if I washed my hands
And I say, Listen, Bud,
I’ve had about as much as I can stand

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Written by

Beliefs | Intuition | Dreams | Journaling | Connector | Inspirer | Former College Teacher | Twitter: @paulryburn

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