Catching a buzz

Xinyu Li/Senior Staff

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Picture this: It’s Friday night and you’re at a party. You’ve taken a shot or two, played a few games of rage cage and almost definitely contracted mono from slapping the bag. You’re probably experiencing what experts in the field of getting hammered call a “buzz.”

While reactions to alcohol differ from person to person, it’s generally agreed that when you catch a buzz from alcohol, things get blurry. Your cognitive functions are compromised, and your mood, speech and general perception of the world around you can get fuzzy. In general, things just seem make a lot less sense once you’ve caught a buzz from that third/fourth/tenth shot of Vitali that Becky demanded you take with her.

In the digital age we live in, where peers, friends and the most distant of relatives can spread information with the click of a button, it appears that it’s just as easy for the world of social media to catch a buzz as it is for a freshman at their first Welcome Week frat party.

In a similar scenario, as information constantly circulates around us on our Facebook feeds, fact and fiction seem to blur, you don’t know if you can trust what you’re seeing, and the line between what’s acceptable to say and what’s not gets fuzzier and fuzzier. Our limited attention spans are prone to pick out certain snippets and pieces from the haze, and this is where we get the appropriately labeled phenomenon of “buzzwords.”

While the term “buzzword” often refers to catchy or industry-relevant phrases that you might use during an interview (“I’m a results-oriented team player with an entrepreneurial spirit and eye for innovative, strategic problem-solving!”), I am here referring to the phrases and words that, in light of an increasingly polarized political climate, infiltrate social media on mass scales, and as a result, become detached from their meaning and lose their impact.

Think back to the recurring words that popped out to you the last time you scrolled through Facebook. What type of words did you see? Probably some important, powerful words that, when used appropriately, can address real and difficult issues that undeniably exist today. Problems emerge when we are intoxicated by a whirlwind of media around us that that dull our senses and numb us to the true meaning of these words.

Just like alcohol makes it a whole lot easier to approach that cute special someone that you normally avoid eye contact with, the social media buzz makes us a lot more inclined to say and share things without evaluating the consequences and use words inappropriately and out of context.

Similarly, as it can be hard to think straight while the room is spinning thanks to that Four Loko ice luge, it can be extremely hard to have honest, productive conversations about the issues that buzzwords address. But to make pointed arguments about social injustices, it’s important that we clear our heads, sober up and understand the most effective ways to use these words so they don’t just get lost in the buzz.

Contact Hannah Nguyen at [email protected]