I feel so nauseous
2016's Word of the Year is "surreal."
And it ain't because of Salvador Dali.
No, as the famed hawker of dictionaries Merriam-Webster notes, it's "because [surreal] was looked up significantly more frequently by users in 2016 than it was in previous years." Tricia McDermott has more:
"Surreal is often looked up spontaneously in moments of both tragedy and surprise, whether or not it is used in speech or writing. This is not surprising: we often search for just the right word to help us bring order to abstract thoughts, emotions, or reactions. Surreal seems to be, for 2016, such a word."
Breaking News, the soon-to-be-shuttered social media news outlet (which itself has had a "surreal" year, at least by MW's definition of the word) tweets, "Merriam-Webster declares 'Surreal' as 2016 Word of the Year, cites 3 'major spikes in interest' tied to news events." Those news events? One's a terrorist attack, the second's an attempted coup, and the third is... you guessed it, the outcome of the presidential election.
In other 'surreal' news:
According to a former Secret Service agent speaking to Politico, Trump is "playing with fire" by continuing to employ his own private security team at rallies instead of relying solely on the Secret Service, which constitutes "a major break with tradition," writes Kenneth Vogel. "It's like Trump has studied the warning signs of fascism and is trolling us by emulating them all, one by one," tweets Slate columnist Yascha Mounk.
In Sunday's New York Times, Liz Spayd wrote that the paper's team covering the 2016 presidential election had "less diversity than you'll find in Donald Trump's cabinet thus far." Now Tanzina Vega has written a 10-point plan at CNN for how newsrooms can stop being so white. "Failing @ diversity is failing journalism," tweets the Washington Post's Wesley Lowery.
"IMF director Lagarde found guilty of crim charges linked to misuse of funds during time as France finance minister," tweets Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post, linking to the New York Times' reporting on the matter. Here's New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor's dismal (or do we say, "surreal" now?) take: "Hillary defeated. Lagarde possibly jail-bound. Yellen term expiring. So much for women running the (Western) world."
At the Guardian, Luke Harding and Hannes Munzinger report that Trump's Secretary of State pick and current ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, was the long-time director of a US-Russian oil firm based in the tax haven of the Bahamas. "So glad Trump is not picking from the elite or those with dodgy tax histories or clear conflicts of interest," tweets BBC contributor Paul Lewis with just a whiff of sarcasm.
"Minuscule problem, potent political weapon." That's how the New York Times' Nina Bernstein characterizes the much talked-about supposed scourge known as "voter fraud," as she links to her colleague Michael Wines' piece which reveals that the number of credible voter fraud cases during the 2016 U.S. presidential election was—with all due respect to Donald Trump's Twitter account—"next to none."
Russia's making headlines again, but not over claims of U.S. election hacking. Rather, it's because Russia's Turkish ambadassor, according to Reuters and other outlets, has been shot down by a man Turkish security sources claim to be an off-duty police officer who allegedly shouted, "Don't forget Aleppo" before opening fire (Reports are still conflicting as to whether the ambassador is dead or "severely wounded." As for the perpetrator, Reuters' Mark Hosenball tweets, "Turkey's Anadolu state-run news agency says gunman in Ankara 'neutralized.'"
If what we refer to as "surreal" now is simply "absurdity mixed with despair," then perhaps no story today is more "surreal" than the Reuters investigation finding that, for all the much-deserved attention on water contamination in Flint, MI, there are almost 3,000 areas with "lead poisoning rates far higher" than what environmental experts saw in Flint. According to Reuters journalists M. B. Pell and Joshua Schneyer, the affected areas span across 21 states and are home to 61 percent of the total U.S. population. "This is pretty scary stuff (and excellent reporting)," tweets Nicholas Riccardi of the AP.
And finally, on this otherwise cold, dreary day of news, the staff of Deadspin bring you a gift: The Worst Tweets of 2016, a deliciously cynical snark-bonanza that might just give you hope that, while things may be just as dire as you fear, how seriously you choose to take the impending apocalypse is up to you. Most of the guilty parties are, of course, fellow journalists (including at least half a dozen journalists at Gawker sites like Deadspin), but really it's all done with love. Or hate. Or both. Either way, I think we can all get behind Exclaim!'s Josiah Hughes' assessment of the post: "I feel so nauseous."