It’s been a tough year for many of us: an interminable presidential campaign; the Zika virus; a raging opiod epidemic; the electoral college win of Donald Trump, despite a nearly three-million popular-vote deficit; the heartbreaking refugee crisis. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?
Some dictionaries choose a word of the year based on popular perception as well as Google hits. For 2016, Merriam-Webster chose surreal, “marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream.” If someone had told you at the beginning of this year what was in store for the world, would you have believed the headlines? We can only hope 2017 will be less surreal. “Hope is the thing with feathers,” wrote Emily Dickinson. It’s fragile, like a bird, but we have to try to keep it alive.
The Oxford Dictionaries chose as their word of the year post-truth. We find ourselves in a situation in which facts are less important to many people than their beliefs and emotions. A Trump spokeswoman, Scottie Nell Hughes, announced on the “Diane Rehm Show” that “facts no longer matter.” Think about that. If Trump said he saw thousands of people dancing on New Jersey roofs after 9/11, the FACT that this event did not happen means nothing, as long as you want to believe the lie.
Incidentally, the runner-up word for Merriam- Webster was fascism.