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Say it with words

Every year about this time I run out of things to say. No matter what the topic is it seems like I can’t find the words. I think I need some new material.

Every year about this time I run out of things to say. No matter what the topic is it seems like I can’t find the words. I think I need some new material.

Fortunately, this is also the time when the "word of the year" is announced and suddenly there is fresh new jargon for everybody. This year’s word reflects current social trends but it also makes a sad commentary about interpersonal relationships today.

The word of the year for 2009 is "unfriend," a verb. It means to remove a friend from a social network site such as Facebook. How cruel that must be. I have never unfriended or been unfriended myself but I can just imagine.

They used to say breaking up was hard to do but thanks to cyberspace it can be accomplished at the speed of light with a Blackberry in the palm of your hand. It’s all done electronically and that’s probably a good thing. I have no idea how to unfriend somebody in person.

If I think back I can honestly say that any real friends I have ever made are still good friends to this day. I’m pretty sure they feel the same way. I wonder what a person has to do to get themselves unfriended. Maybe electronic friendships are different.

I’m not sure the word of the year will ever be in the dictionary but some of the other nominees are interesting.

"Hypermiling" is the practice of taking extreme measures to increase your vehicle’s mileage.
This seems like a good idea but can involve unsafe practices such as tailgating, cornering at high speeds and wind surfing behind big rigs. For some Thunder Bay drivers this is just business as usual.

They’ve been hypermiling for years. Slowing down is a much better strategy.

"Ecohacking" refers to the use of science in very large scale projects to change the environment for the better. One example is the use of large mirrors or solar collectors orbiting the planet to generate green energy. Judging from the local reaction to wind generators, ecohacking may not be for us at this time.

From the world of medicine a new procedure has been named the "wallet biopsy." This involves an examination, before medical service is provided, of a person’s ability to pay in order to determine the level of care. I believe, hopefully, that this is an American term.

Have you seen any good "tramp stamps" lately? Those are the tattoos that can be seen on the lower back, just above the "coin slot."

The new American president has been the inspiration for a number of rhythmic musical terms now being used to describe his presidency. Depending on your personal views you can choose from Obamarama, Obamanation, Obamalicious or Obamalypse.

A large number of new words have been devised to describe the virtual world. Those Blackberry people who can’t keep their hands off their handheld devices now have their own vocabulary to use while they tweet via the Twitter.

That’s right folks, the Twitterati are compiling their very own form of Twitterature. These days even the best of families have to deal with tweetaholics and the ravages of Twitterhea.
Drivers in Ontario now face stiff fines for operating a vehicle while "intexticated" – distracted due to texting while driving.

A "cyberchondriac" (formerly a hypochondriac) is someone who believes they have a particular disease or condition based on information they’ve gathered from the Internet. If you have a symptom you can probably find a disease to blame it on.

More and more people these days are "multi-slacking." That is, they are performing multiple slacker-esque tasks at the same time. Qualifying activities include checking your MySpace page, surfing Wikipedia, chatting and half-watching random videos while eating pizza, texting and clipping your toe nails.

The way we communicate is changing fast and the word of the year is a bleak reminder of where we may be headed. We seem to be eliminating the need for interpersonal relationships. Even the virtual relationships that replace them can be bleeped away at any time.

What ever happened to one-on-one, face-to-face communication? The written and spoken word has become a series of rings, tones, tweets and texts. It’s all about icons, emoticons, shortcuts and symbols.

What used to be lifelong friendships can now be unfriended with the flick of a thumb.

Oh well, I guess that’s what passes for communication these days.