We thought marketing jargon couldn’t get any worse than it was in 2020. We were so naïve. Welcome to the dystopian hell that is marketer abuse of language in 2021. And, yeah, spoiler alert, dystopian is one of the magic words. That’s because some of this year’s entries are viral prefixes that can hook onto almost any word with their spike proteins.
Meta – This prefix became annoyingly overused long before it became the name of Facebook’s corporate parent. Now it gives founder Mark Zuckerberg the opportunity to impact the virtual world just as he has the physical one.
Dystopian – Actually, dystopian is a perfectly wonderful word. It describes, among other things, a disturbingly vast literary and movie genre. What’s so, well, dystopian now is that it’s now used so often and appropriately.
Metaverse – At first, it’s unclear why “meta” became the prefix to mash up with universe to signify a holographic world where everyone becomes a geek wearing a virtual reality headset (or someday just surgical optical implants). But since “meta” used to mean “self-referential,” maybe that really does make it the best descriptor for a world populated by wankers. Then again, Zuckerberg’s earliest metaverse prototype included meetings with avatars that have no bodies below the waist, which would prevent the Toobin effect.
Crypto – We’ve just begun to see how many things this prefix can attach to, unfortunately. But its use for “cryptocurrency” was always questionable. After all, facilitating organized crime transactions is only part of the proposition. Crypto means “hidden.” And what could be less hidden than something many people literally cannot stop talking about all the time?
Social audio – Remember those halcyon days (March) when Clubhouse and social audio were the future of marketing? Back before the Metaverse (September) was the future of marketing? Or before Twitter co-opted the space? Social audio is too bland. Instead, how about the description one Twitter commentator gave it: “Blowhard thought leader dystopian hell” or BTLDH for short.