Yes yes, swine flu. We are all wearing masks and batmanning the barricades against piggy pox. The news is all a flutter and how will we survive with the panicked prognostications of all major news outlets.

However the vectors of the spread of a disease are nothing over the spread of jokes, memes and neologisms. So here are a couple of case studies for you to keep your eye out for.

A) WINE FLU: This would be an example of a joke disease which will burn out very quickly once everyone has heard it, but if Have I Got News For You or The News Quiz get it quick enough will get an OK laugh. The basic formulation is as follows:
“I woke up this morning with nausea and splitting headache. I think it might be Wine Flu”
Do you see? Its a play on words mistaking Swine Flu (actual disease) with Wine Flu, a made up term referring to a hangover.

THREAT LEVEL: High. Its a pretty simple joke after all. Luckily it should burn out by this time next week.

B) BADVOCACY: I came across this term on a website and wondered about the difficulties of the neologism coiner. It comes from Tom’s neck of the woods, looking at web and social media’s ability to spread negative perceptions around. For example #amazonfail is a perfect example of Badvocacy in action. Its clearly a clever mixture of BAD and ADVOCACY, and yet feels clunky.

You can check out The Ladybird Book Of Badvocacy, from Weber Shandwick, who are SHOCK, an advocacy firm. So you can see why they are keen on the term. But it seems a bit too glib to really succeed in the rough and tumble word of web neologisms. Nevertheless if you see it elsewhere, in particular in a headline, let us know.


Also let us know if you want us to monitor the pandemic levels of threat of other words – we have tendrils everywhere.