Some words and phrases that are used on social media have a power to illuminate. So do star shells and target indicator flares. In some cases what happens next is a lot more fun than Facebook…
Of course, some words do not illuminate the target nearly as much as they do the person who fires them. You could say they explode out of the muzzle – that is why all the best machine guns have flash hiders.
Think of the number of times you have been cheerfully moving down your Facebook feed looking for games to play or places to send your banking information to. And then you stumble across:
Noxious…toxic…narcissist…social justice…white privilege…passionate…activist – and other perfectly normal English words. Sometimes they have been used in a perfectly normal way…and sometimes used as code-words to support various forms of propaganda. The words themselves are not at fault – but they flash brightly and illuminate the eyes behind the weapon.
You can make a flash word list for yourself – you’ll find fascist, nazi, communist, red, pinko, and many more political terms. There will be any number of distortions of unpopular political leaders’ names used to mock them. You can pick your objet d’ horreur as you like – there’ll be someone who will hate them too, and you can have a nice chat.
And don’t get me started on Those People. You know who they are. I know you know because you wrote about Them using a naughty word…You may be one of Those Other People.
I regard flash words as warning that I am dealing with someone who would as lief turn and gun me down as cheer me on. By the time they become a regular contributor I can pretty well guess which.