The internet is a cold, harsh place

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

It’s that time of the year between blowing stuff up to commemorate the failed plot of Ye Olde Terrorist Guy Fawkes and the rush of tinsel and fake snow that makes us spend, when Oxford pops up with the new words it will be chucking on the pages of its latest dictionaries.

And this year’s top word, the best of the best, is unfriend.

Ah, the internet, it’s a cold, harsh place for the socially inept. Trust me, I know: my ability to say the first thing that pops into my head without running it through any sort of mental filtration system means my friends spend a lot of the time they are in my company shaking their heads and looking at me like I’m a not-particularly-successful social experiment.

So what is unfriend, I hear you ask. It’s the act of removing someone from your list of friends (or contacts) on a social networking site, such as Facebook. Oh yes, the internet is a harsh place all right.

Sexting was another of the technology-based words to make the shortlist. It means “the sending of sexually explicit texts and pictures by cellphone” (in plain English: getting your freak on via cellphone).

It’s interesting that technology is giving us so many new verbs: we Google, we PhotoShop and now we unfriend. However, I can’t see Microsoft’s search engine catching on as a verb because I still think Bing sounds just a wee bit naughty. For example: ”I’ve Googled George Clooney, Adam Lambert and SpongeBob Squarepants” sounds fairly wholesome but change that to Binged and it sounds a lot like the tagline for one of those DVDs that comes in a plain brown wrapper.

PS: The local boys in blue are getting Tasers so maybe it’s only a matter of time before they are approved for use by web editors, too. I need to protect myself from low-flying starlings and marauding subeditors.


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