A guide to what they’re really saying.
The Post Modern Dictionary explores the underlying meaning and assumptions of contemporary words and phrases. A little satire is used to expose the hidden meaning behind words which are deployed to promote a political agenda, close down debate or hide the real intention of the communicator. Here are some of them.
To feel regret for voting for Brexit. Bregret is a portmanteau of the words Brexit and regret.
Derivation: The term was first coined on 24 June 2016 by supporters of Britain’s continued membership of the European Union. Shocked by the result, Remain campaigners worked hard to understand the motivation of Brexit voters. After talking to each other, they concluded that the majority vote for Brexit was the result of an emotional spasm, which could only be followed by feelings of sorrow and regret. Unable to come to terms with their sense of dislocation, Remain campaigners projected their feelings of sadness and remorse on to Brexit voters. They hope that their feelings will catch on in the absence of new arguments to remain in the EU.
Use: ‘They didn’t know what they were voting for, they must feel Bregret now.’
A gas contained by a thin layer of liquid.
Derivation: The term is used as a metaphorical description of the space occupied by a group of people who share similar views. Their singular outlook is reinforced by the validation of fellow-thinkers who inhabit the same bubble. The prominence of a groupthink bubble can be measured by the quantity of hot air generated within it. The thin veneer of liquid is unstable and maintains its form only when reinforced by self-validation. The liquid encasement often dissipates when contact is made with unfamiliar environments, including the real world.
Use: ‘She has no idea what real life is like. She lives in the Westminster bubble.’
Call out [Kawl-out]
To verbally hold someone to account for their words or actions.
Derivation: Historically, someone was ‘called out’ to perform a simple action. For example, it used to be common to ‘call out’ a plumber to fix a leaking pipe. In recent times, we have seen a revival of the once-popular tradition of public denunciation. ‘Calling’ someone ‘out’ has become an effective way for aggrieved people to denounce an opponent, without the cumbersome task of detailing their accusation. By performing this task in public, the subject of the ‘call out’ is answerable to an audience that acts on the accuser’s behalf. The subject is unable to defend themselves, through logic or argument, and is forced to seek redemption through a public display of contrition, issuing an apology and expressing the intention to ‘seek help’. This simultaneously establishes the accuser’s moral authority, creates an appreciative crowd and saves time.
Use: ‘I’m calling you out for your inappropriate behaviour. Say sorry.’
A disciple of Jeremy Corbyn.
Derivation: Like ‘Blairite’ or ‘Thatcherite’, one who follows the principles of Jeremy Corbyn is typically known as a ‘Corbynista’. The term is a conflation of ‘Corbyn’ and ‘Sandinista’ (a devotee of Nicaraguan revolutionary Augusto César Sandino). Not to be confused with ‘Guardianista’ (a person who believes that the Guardian offers quality journalism) or ‘barista’ (someone who prepares expensive, coffee-based beverages for high-street chains). Corbynistas are typically middle-class and fond of craft beer. Keen to display their socialist credentials, they enjoy seeking out potentially offensive remarks on Twitter while feigning an interest in grime. Accomplished Corbynistas appear radical and progressive without the necessity of reading about or understanding socialism.
Use: ‘That bearded man in the skinny jeans and plaid flannel shirt is almost certainly a Corbynista.’
A person or company that makes small quantities of products using old-fashioned techniques.
Derivation: The term ‘craft’ is added to everyday commodities to demonstrate that they have been created using ancient methods or recipes. Simple products, such as beer or bread, are thus transformed by adding the term ‘craft’. The consumption of craft products generates feelings of enhanced self-worth deep within the consumer. Inflated prices are justified by the beneficial psychological effects. Marketing standard products as ‘craft’ products follows a long-standing tradition of re-inventing tradition to sell ordinary goods. ‘Craft’ was first heard in the rural idyll of Shoreditch, London, in 2012. It is now in common usage throughout fashion-able urban areas and Waitrose supermarkets.
Use: ‘Our craft beer is hand-woven using traditional hops. It is personally served in bottles using a material first created by Phoenician sailors 4,000 years ago.’
Hashtag activist [Hash-tag Ak-tuh-vist]
An opinionated person whose primary activity is the utilisation of Twitter. Also known as #activist.
Derivation: The term hashtag activist was coined to describe people who have a lot of spare time on their hands, access to a smartphone and solidified opinions. #activists eschew persuasion and discourse and embrace the promotion of a set of limited ideas. The primary role of the #activist is to create an impression that their viewpoint has widespread popularity by exploiting the retweet function on Twitter. Traditionally, activists measured their success by the number of people who were convinced by their ideas. #activists avoid this laborious task by simply counting their number of retweets. The collective noun for #activists is twitchfork mob.
Use: ‘I noticed he tweeted #MeToo yesterday, but to be honest I think he’s a bit of a hashtag activist.’
Hate crime [Heyt Krhaym]
Politically loaded noun
A hate crime is any incident which the victim, or anyone else, thinks is based on someone’s prejudice towards them because of their race, religion, sexual orientation or disability.
Derivation: Hate crimes were enshrined in law to ensure that motivation can be considered as an aggravating factor in the prosecution of crimes and alleged crimes. For a crime to be categorised as a hate crime, it merely has to be reported by someone who believes that it is one — either to the police or on a website. It is now officially recognised that hate crime statistics can be used as a proxy for measuring the level of ‘hate’ in society. Left-wing political scientists have demonstrated that hate crimes have risen since Brexit. In this way, they are able to gain support for political programmes which are ‘against hate’. This includes a second EU referendum and restrictions on free speech.
Use: ‘The rise in hate crimes since 24 June 2016 shows that the Brexit vote was fuelled by racism.’
Lived experience [Livd Ik-speer-ee-uh-ns]
Knowledge gained through first-hand experience, often related to a person’s membership of a victim group.
Derivation: In modern times, many people believe that our understanding is determined by our race, gender or sexuality, making it impossible to understand what it’s like to be someone of a different race, gender or sexuality. For example, a white, middle-aged novelist is said to be unable to imagine the experiences of a non-white, teenage girl. We now realise that we cannot truly appreciate the lives of those who aren’t exactly the same as us in every particular. In the olden days, it was believed that empathy and the universality of the human condition freed our imaginations. We could gain insight beyond our own immediate experiences. This old-fashioned thinking led to a mistaken belief that each person shared a common humanity. To correct this error, only those who have ‘lived experience’ are given the authority to speak on behalf of their officially defined victim group. It is appropriate that others should listen and nod respectfully to opinions based on ‘lived experience’, irrespective of the ideas proposed or the lack of evidence offered. Ideas justified by a reference to ‘lived experience’ are superior to those based on evidence or reason.
Use: ‘As a [fill in sub group here], I say that you cannot speak about [fill in sub group’s experience here] because you don’t have any lived experience.’
An adjective applied to behaviour which is considered unsuitable or improper.
Derivation: The adjective ‘inappropriate’ has replaced the use of ‘wrong’, ‘naughty’ or ‘bad’ to criticise behaviour that is deemed socially unacceptable. As society has become morally confused, it finds itself increasingly unable to make moral judgments. By describing someone’s behaviour as ‘inappropriate’, it can be criticised without the need for justification or explanation. ‘Inappropriate’ can be used widely and indiscriminately without invoking morality which others might find alienating. The word is widely used by those who wish to create strict rules to manage other people’s behaviour without explaining why. In this way ‘inappropriate’ is appropriate for the modern age.
Use: ‘Your language is inappropriate. You are banned.’
The tendency of men to over-explain things to women, even though the woman in question may be more of an expert than the man in question. A portmanteau of ‘man’ and ‘explaining’.
Derivation: The term was coined to describe any communication uttered by a man to a woman that is perceived as condescending. When a man is explaining something and a woman wishes not to hear it, or believes she knows it already, she can accuse him of ‘mansplaining’. When this term is invoked, it is incumbent upon the man to stop speaking until asked to do so again by the woman. The term can also be utilised to discount an idea or concept proposed by a man without going to the trouble of expressing an alternative point of view. Men accused of mansplaining should apologise to the woman concerned and reflect on their unconscious misogyny.
Use: ‘Stop mansplaining and listen to me.’
An irrational fear of something.
Derivation: Modern political commentators have developed a unique insight into the human condition. They have discovered that ordinary people do not have rational political opinions or belief systems but are instead suffering from a range of phobias. It used to be the case that people who were opposed to radical Islam were considered liberal, but now we know they are simply suffering from ‘Islamophobia’. Those concerned about the consequences of mass immigration are, similarly, suffering from ‘xenophobia’. Now that the political problem has been identified as a form of collective pathological irrationality, it can be treated. Political commentators are working hard to identify ‘phobias’ in every aspect of political discourse. They are successfully isolating and cauterising them. It is hoped that the mass sanitisation campaign will be successful and normal politics can be resumed soon.
Use: ‘People who voted for Brexit are xenophobic. They shouldn’t have the vote.’
Post-truth [Pohst Trooth]
Politically loaded adjective
The theory that most people are no longer able to seek or recognise objective truth.
Derivation: The term ‘post-truth’ was coined in response to recent political upheavals. Phenomena such as Brexit and the election of Donald Trump demonstrate that ‘the masses’ are susceptible to rogue viewpoints which do not conform to the conventional wisdom of the metropolitan elite, otherwise known as ‘the truth’. Experts and leaders are responsible for defining ‘the truth’. Their failure to notice that most people disagree with them has led to the evolution of ‘post-truth’ theory. It is now understood that those thinking incorrectly are guided by emotion, petulance and gullibility — as well as various ‘phobias’ (see above). Experts are now working hard to resurrect ‘the truth’, mainly by denouncing heretics who fail to believe in it.
Use: ‘People who voted for Trump are living in a post-truth world.’
Safe space [Seyf Speys]
A safe space is an area where any unorthodox, ‘inappropriate’ opinions are prohibited because people might find them threatening or, worse, they might make them feel physically sick.
Derivation: Safe spaces have been established in schools and universities to provide an environment for a group of like-minded people to assemble without risk of their opinions being challenged. The popularity of safe spaces is leading to their wider adoption across all sorts of institutions, not just those in the education sector. To make wider society ‘safe’, the majority of people are required to change their behaviour and language — to ‘check’ their ‘privilege’. Infractions of the elaborate and established behaviour codes are punished.
Use: ‘You cannot express that point of view in this university’s debating chamber. It is a safe space.’
A portmanteau of ‘sheep’ and ‘people’. The characterisation of the mass of the population as stupid, credulous and easily led.
Derivation: The term is used to describe the people who voluntarily acquiesce to a suggestion without critical analysis and behave as if in a herd. The term is used by writers, activists and other well-educated people to describe the behaviour of ordinary people. Despite being endowed with superior intellects, these thought-leaders have struggled to understand the motivations of lower-class people who reject their wisdom. The term ‘sheeple’ has been developed to resolve this problem. By characterising ordinary people as ovine, their thoughts and opinions can be written off as sub-human and discounted. Intellectuals can continue to operate as the purveyors of reason and truth without feeling any need to convince the herd around them.
Use: ‘These sheeple cannot think for themselves. They need to be led.’
Propelled into a state of shock after experiencing something which challenges your preconceptions.
Derivation: The term was originally coined by psychotherapists working with people who had experienced severe trauma and were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to describe words or ideas that could invoke the full horror of their traumatic experience. However, as more and more people have become increasingly traumatised by everyday experiences, such as being confronted by someone who does not share your point of view, the term has been adapted to describe the unpleasant effect of being argued with. To protect people from this risk, ‘trigger’ warnings are now being applied to books, films and university lectures to protect the vulnerable. To speed up the process of cleansing society of any unorthodox opinions, political activists are triggering themselves on others’ behalf by claiming to be ‘offended’ by centre-right opinions. In this way, activists
are selflessly leading the way towards a safe, trauma-free world.
Use: ‘I don’t think we should stock The Cat in the Hat in the school library. Some children might find the racist caricatures in its illustrations triggering.’