The other day, my wife was standing in line at a Jefferson County Barnes & Noble when two girls, both around fifteen, began encroaching on her space in a way that would have been rude under normal circumstances but was way beyond that during the COVID-19 pandemic, even though they wearing masks. My wife cut them a glare that alerted their guardian, an older woman who quickly offered a "sorry" on their behalf and herded the teens back a few feet. As the pair retreated, one turned to the other, gestured at my wife, and said in a very loud voice, "Distance Nazi!," causing both to burst into laughter.
Welcome to 2020, when mean girls, and mean people in general who think they're indestructible, feel free to insult those who insist on following public-health officials' advice regarding an infection that's killed more than 170,000 Americans to date. And indeed, the novel coronavirus has produced an explosion of new vocabulary specifically designed for this purpose.
Which of these terms are most likely to make the leap from social media posts to in-person insults used by bitchy, self-entitled Denver-area teens? After spending a dispiritingly long time exploring Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and sites such as the always reliable Urban Dictionary, here are our top ten picks:
Adding "Nazi" to words such as "distance" and "mask" may seem linguistically lazy, but it adds an undeniable punch of the sort that mean girls enjoy. During our online explorations, we also found multiple references to "COVID Nazis" and even "Coronazi," although the latter might be difficult to pronounce (especially for anyone wearing braces). Variations such as "Mask Fascist" and "COVID Fascist" simply don't roll off the tongue.
If Twitter has a favorite COVID-19 slam, this is it, and for good reason: It's actually sort of clever, albeit in a patently scatological sort of way.
Not quite as user-friendly as "maskhole," but sort of funny, especially given how many people don their facial coverings incorrectly — though they usually wear them on the chin, not the top of their head.
A little bit tortured but practical, since when the worst of the pandemic is finally behind us (we hope), cloth masks can be repurposed to soak up spills.
When I first came across this slur, I couldn't imagine a teen girl actually using it. A nanosecond later, I totally could.
"Snitch," like "Nazi," has proven to be an all-purpose barb; other variations we found include "Social Distancing Snitch" and "Normality Snitch." But as in most things, simplicity is better.
Social Distancing Zombies
The Urban Dictionary's SDZ definition: "In order to maintain a safe distance from others, people were conditioned to raise their arms in front of them. When everyone shuffled around with their arms raised in front of them, the advised level of social distancing was maintained." George Romero would be proud.
This term for "an individual obsessed with the coronavirus" would be a great name for a band, and it's got a pleasant sing-song quality that lifts it above other corona-related rivals, such as "Coronaphobia."
An all-purpose word perfect for hurling at anyone who doesn't meet a snooty teen's standards — as in, "Don't talk to her! She's all...covidy."
We can actually imagine this term for a romantic relationship launched during the pandemic being used in a sweet way. But true mean girls can turn anything nice into something nasty with a mere flick of the tongue. That's their superpower.
Covidiot, Mask Acne and COVID-38, shorthanded as a person who's contracted COVID-19 twice.
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