Neologism Corner



Today’s word: IRSOTAISM. Pronounced: Ir-so-tay-ism. Also: irsotaised; irsotaic; etc. 

Paranoid fear and panicked preparation for an unforeseeable disaster for which, by definition, no one CAN prepare. 

I could concoct an exotic etymology for this, but it is, in fact, an acronym, deriving from the initial letters of ‘I Read Something On The Internet And It Scared Me’. 

There are lots of irsotaisms on the Internet; fear mongering statements, often accompanied by scary videos about runaway inflation, runs on the bank, scarcity of supplies, emptied supermarkets, marauding zomboids, and the end of civilisation as we know it. But the chief feature of such prognostications is always the same; you need to download an e-book or a file to put you one step ahead of the impending crisis, and that e-book will cost you ‘only’ $49 (it’s usually going to be an American crisis, often one caused by something Obama’s done wrong, but they are careful to mention that it will affect Europeans as well. 

Try using it in a sentence: “I suspect that is merely an irsotaic conspiracy ‘theory’,” (remember to put just the right cynical intonation on the word, ‘theory’; “Did they ask for any money? That’s invariably a dead giveaway that it’s an irsotaism. You can safely ignore it.” And you can. Often the irsotaism is merely a warm up to advertising their must-buy course on ten DVDs (downloadable as mp3s) that can be had for the special, early bird discounted price of $499, ($999 value!) that also tells you the ‘step by step method of emerging from the crisis as a MILLIONAIRE!’. Of course, the offer is GUARANTEED, you NEED NOT SPEND A CENT. But of course, to reclaim your cash outlay, you have to give the method a fair trial, which means you have to survive a disaster such as an asteroid hitting Manhattan or London, or a tidal wave, or Armageddon or whatever and fail to re emerge as a millionaire. 

This is all reminiscent of the joke insurance policies we pretended to sell each other in the school playground: “You pay a pound a week and you are entirely protected against being attacked by a Martian at the bottom of a lift shaft”. Ah the wisdom of the playground. What a pity that so many of them arrive at adulthood and put away ‘childish’ things without having learned from them.

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About Zoe Nightingale

I am a writer of short stories, novels, poetry and non fiction.
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