4 New Words We Need Because of the Internet
You've probably already heard about the Oxford Dictionary adding "twerk," "phablet," and "buzzworthy" to its online edition. Complain about the gradual decline of society and cringe at them all you want; language is designed to evolve, and we actually need those words because they describe things that exist and are a simpler alternative to, say, "masquerading an ass seizure as dancing." Unfortunately, linguistic evolution tends to take a lot of time, often failing to keep up with the ultra-fast world of Internet trends, many of which still lack proper names.
That's where I come in, because as a non-native speaker, deep down I still sort of treat English like comprehensible noise anyway. Consequently, my brain doesn't feel like it just bit into a raisin cookie thinking that it was chocolate chip when I try to invent brand new noise like ...
I have a great deal of appreciation for science, but I don't really science myself. On the other hand, I know how to read a scientific source and gauge its legitimacy, which usually comes down to paying attention to details and remaining skeptical. "Infactuation" (a portmanteau of "infatuation" and "fact") is what happens when you skip all of that and proceed to blindly applaud anything vaguely science-related in a homemade cheerleader uniform, like this:
"Yeah Science, Bitch" is a popular Internet meme meant to express an informal appreciation of science and all the wonderful things it has accomplished, but the above example has less to do with actual science than a homeopathic clinic for unicorns. A closer look at the article reveals that Dr. Jim Swan, the man who thinks whiskey can fight cancer, has absolutely no data to back it up and bases it on, well ... a hunch. According to Swan, if whiskey contains the antioxidant ellagic acid, then logically it should be able to fight cancer. Actual cancer specialists, on the other hand, remain unconvinced of Swan's findings, and not just because the man is the fucking master distiller for Penderyn Whisky!
Call me cynical, but that little detail makes this "discovery" shakier than a game of Jenga played with freshly emptied beer bottles. But you probably don't see it that way if you're suffering from infactuation, because to you all "science" is great and smart and beautiful and always smells like freshly cut wildflowers and once even proved that giving blow jobs is beneficial to female health:
Incidentally, that study about the supposed depression-fighting properties of sperm chemicals was conducted not by a medical doctor but by a psychologist who based it on a survey of 293 women without even first diagnosing them with depression. But so what? "Science" just told you to put your penis in women's mouths and drown-murder your liver in whiskey. What kind of moron would ever question that?
But that's exactly my point: Science is not a box of Lucky Charms that you get to pick through looking for the occasional blow-job-shaped marshmallow (which later turns out to be a dead bug). Either you believe in the principles of the scientific method, which include data collection, testing, and verification, or you're just looking for something cool to put on your T-shirt.
That picture, and many others like it, comes from the largest science-related page on Facebook: I fucking love science, which collects easily digestible graphics and quotes somewhat connected to science, and on September 16 even posted a picture of a pie that's gotten over 40,000 likes and 10,000 comments:
It's a Venn piagram! Get it? Science!
But don't get me wrong. It's probably better for everyone to be for science than against it, even if so many people are treating it like a password to a secret club with a "No dumb people allowed, LOL" sign hanging in front. That's cool. It's no different from wearing an obscure band T-shirt to feel superior to the mainstream masses, but it also needs a name. A name that says "Hey, I think dinosaurs and robots are neato burrito, but most of my knowledge of them comes from Jurassic Park and Futurama." I believe that name should be "infactuation."
People like to be told that they're smart or pretty. I get that, because I've related to basically every overweight standup comic in history. But it's always best to get your self-esteem from your friends and family, who've been conditioned through millennia of societal development to keep you from becoming depressed and loath-eating all of the village's food supply. If, however, you attempt the same thing with strangers and try to be sneaky about it by posting "I'm so ugly" comments on Facebook, someone will come along and do what the Internet does best: quint you right in your sense of self-worth.
Named after Quint -- Robert Shaw's character in Jaws who went hunting for a shark but was instead sharked to death -- to be quinted means to have one's attempts at fishing for compliments brought to a brutal end. It can range from others bluntly refusing to play your praise-hunger games ...
... to more advanced quinting, where a bunch of people discuss everything about your picture/post except the one thing you wanted to hear, until you're thiiiis close to yell-typing "GOD DAMMIT, JUST TELL ME I'M PRETTY/SMART!"
You might think that this sort of thing doesn't happen that often, in which case, God bless you, dear stranger. Your worldview hasn't yet been corrupted from spending way more time on the Internet than is healthy/logically possible. But having been blessed with the physical constitution of mashed potatoes and a disdain for sports that rivals that of soccer riot victims, I basically live on the Internet, where quinting is an everyday occurrence. Some pages are already collecting stories of fishing for compliments online and the occasional quinting that results from them. Hell, folks are even making meme comics about this Internet phenomenon, despite there not being a name for it.
Until now. Now we have "quint."
The Internet contains every piece of information in existence, except the definition of "relevance." But it is precisely the Internet's inability to care whether the information it provides is relevant to anyone that can suddenly introduce you to some surprisingly fascinating facts and change the way you think about the most mundane objects imaginable. For me, that moment came when I first saw an online photo of crystal fluorite, an otherwise uneventful mineral from which we get fluoride (the stuff they put in our water/toothpaste), which also happens to be one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen:
Holy shit. That looks as if the Tesseract from The Avengers had sex with the Hubble telescope to produce a frozen piece of the cosmos, and I desperately need a word to describe it because there is no adjective in English for "fascinating all of a sudden." I was playing around with various combinations of "ninja" and "bukkake" (because they combine coolness and the quality of unexpectedly hitting you in the face), but in the end I settled on "unboring." It's similar to the word "undead," only instead of reanimated corpses, "unboring" refers to things that have been raised from the realm of boredom. Like with James Blunt, the wusstastic singer behind "You're Beautiful" and, as it turns out, a war-hardened army captain who commanded thousands of soldiers during the Kosovo War.
And suddenly the Ninja Turtles' stupid eye masks make a hell of a lot of sense.
Cracked has actually run numerous articles about secretly awesome things, animals, and places that you've always dismissed as a potential cure for insomnia. There was the time we told you about Switzerland, the chocolate/banking Canada of Europe, which in reality is filled with enough hidden explosives to blow up the country 10 times over. We've also talked about Canada itself and how its favorite hobbies include killing terrorists around the globe and equipping its unboring Mounties with MP5 submachine guns, because it's just so hard to accurately murder people to death with handguns. Those are the actual words of the Mounties, by the way, and the fact that no word comes close to precisely describing the newfound respect you now have for them is proof enough that the English language has failed miserably. No need to thank me for finally fixing it.
I mentioned earlier that I'm not a native English speaker. Hell, I've never even set foot in the U.S., and yet for almost five years now I've been making a living writing about American politics, economics, and pop culture. It was actually quite easy to keep up with everything that was going on in the States thanks to cable TV and the Internet ... right up until Kim Kardashian started getting really famous in 2010.
Who is this lady, I kept asking myself. Why was everyone talking about her? Why do her eyes say "Yeah, I killed a hobo once. What of it?" in every picture she's ever taken? Google helped clear some things up, but the whole experience left me very confused. I know it's a cliche now to say that Kim Kardashian is famous for being famous, but back then that was only starting to become a thing. A thing, mind you, that didn't have a proper name, even though it obviously should be "Tinkerbellend."
Dick jokes are the only true form of comedy.
Owing its etymology to Tinker Bell -- the Peter Pan character who needed people to believe in her or she'd die -- and "bell-end," the literal and figurative term for "dickhead," a Tinkerbellend is that special type of celebrity who is primarily known for their obnoxious self-promotion. Think people like Paris Hilton, Donald Trump, Spencer Pratt, and just about any other famous person who'd forever disappear in a puff of self-absorbed smoke and Chanel No. 5 if we just stopped paying attention to them.
Wikipedia actually lists two similar terms for people like that: "famesque" and "celebutante," the latter of which sounds like an X-Men reject with celery-based powers, and the former like the dying words of a man who's been stabbed in the throat with a Scrabble tile rack. More importantly, none of those names capture the true essence of a Tinkerbellend, whose two major characteristics are seeking fame and having a personality that can be best compared to the head of a human penis. Can you think of a more apt description of, say, Miley Cyrus after her intentionally controversial performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards?
The foam finger is currently in counseling.
Now, it may seem strange to call women "dickheads," but you know what? This is an era of gender-equal mockery, and when someone replaces their tongue with a McDonald's pancake and has simulated sex with a foam finger just so that we start paying attention to them again, that person is going to get called a dick.
But while there are people who are entirely Tinkerbellends, some celebrities might simply have Tinkerbellend moments. It's a little bit like having a senile moment when you go outside without any pants on, only here you do it in front of thousands of people, and instead of showing them your penis, you are the penis.
Which I'm starting to suspect is a prerequisite for participating in the Video Music Awards.
Kanye West has had plenty of those, like when he interrupted Taylor Swift at the VMAs and created an Internet meme, or when he named his daughter North West. And yet that doesn't take away from the fact that he's a successful rapper and producer who unfortunately feels the need to become an occasional giant megaphone on fairy wings, because making good music is rarely enough to sell people a plain white T-shirt for $120. Although, considering that he admits that his ego is his drug, maybe Kanye West isn't doing all of those annoying things because he's a Tinkerbellend but because in his troubled mind he truly believes that if everyone stops talking about him, he actually will die.