A Little Word Challenge

I’ve always thought that creating a new word would be a great way to achieve immortality. Your word would appear in dictionaries for generations to come, with your name beside it as the inventor, if there were any justice in the world.

The rapid changes in technology in recent years mean that new words are needed now more than ever, to describe the new technology and the new concepts that come with it. One phenomenon that I felt deserved its own word occurs when you meet a person you’ve been chatting to quite regularly on Facebook and Twitter, only to realise you don’t know them. Cue awkward squirming and a rapid exit.

So I set a challenge to the people that I know from Facebook and Twitter, some of whom I know in real life, some not, to see if they could come up for a word which describes this phenomenon. Hopefully one of these words will make its way into the lexicon and ensure immortality for its inventors.

There was a healthy response, with a few noticeable trends in the construction of the words.

Words that combined English with French or German. Words in this category included: FacebookMenschensiewissennichtwirklich, friemd (pun on the German for fremd, or stranger), webconnu and sousreal

Words that combined two existing words and captured the paradox of social media friendships – that people who seem to be friends are actually strangers. These included: franger, strangend, facepal(m), cyberbuddy and alternet.

Words that combined existing words to describe the illusion of social media friendship. These included: sociallusion, realmeet, realreveal, sociofabulation, cyberluded and webmirage,

Some words had slightly different definitions, but were still worthy contenders, including amity-nesia (forgetting you were friends with someone on Facebook) and to e-Frame, meaning only using photoshopped pictures of yoruself online, preferably with an inspirational quote.

A few of my favourites from those lists include the monster German word FacebookMenschensiewissennichtwirklich, friemd, sociallusion and franger.

Which word do you think is a candidate for immortality?

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