The coronavirushas created a new lexicon, which shaped, modulated and mediated a global confinement experience. Due to the negationism of the pandemic by President Bolsonaro, in Brazil it gains particular features, while maintaining a dialogue with the global scope.
Words, terms, and places, like alcohol gel, mask , chloroquine , and Wuhan , have entered the everyday vocabulary. Neologisms in Portuguese, such as testing positive , and communavirus , and expressions such as lockdown , hand washing , and social isolation have taken on new meanings. Home Office , Zoom , Emergency Aid , YouTube Lives , and PPEs are other keywords of the moment.
Together, they indicate that the pandemic(another word which became recurrent) has created a whole spectrum of new languages and representations. Will they be quickly forgotten, deleted, and erased from memory, or will they remain?
It is too early to anticipate what will happen in the post-pandemic context. However, it is not premature to state that it has already dictated a few rules of the neoliberal grammar as social foundations like: naturalization of surveillance through cell phone monitoring, the brutality of the remote work regime, the condemnation of the elderly to a dysfunctional position, which consolidate the guidelines that “late capitalism of the ends of sleep,” a 24/7 world, has enunciated some time ago.
In this project, we gather the most striking words of the coronavirus cultural experience tracked by Googledata, during the months of March and April, period that coincides with the beginning of the “quarantine” in Brazil. The most searched-for words by the audience of the Coronary website respond dynamically, changing color, according to a heat map that reflects the attention given.
Popularized by the thermosensors, widely used in Asia, heat maps are one of the aesthetics of surveillance that are embedded in COVID-19.
In this context, the Coronary functions not only as a glossary of the pandemic cultural and socialexperience, but it is also a “surveillance performance" exercise done in public. The colors of the words reveals the economy of attention and the politics of gaze that the Internet puts into play, translating the most visited words into warm colors, and the less visited, into cool colors.
2 - Confinement
Confinement, In Portuguese, is a word which refers to act of arresting, its most common meaning up to the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, and also to setting limits, a sense which became most popular with the coronavirus prevention methods. In the first sense, it refers to prison, capture, imprisonment, captivity, entrapment, detention, internment, incarceration, immurement, impoundment, custody, seizure, seclusion, circumscription, limitation, demarcation, marking. In its second meaning, it alludes to: delimitation, restriction, containment, control, retention, constraint, restraint.
3 - Alcohol Gel
Alcohol gel (Hand Sanitizer) is a liquid used to sanitize or disinfect your hands. Until March 15, the search for the word on Google was almost nil. Between March 15 and 21, 2020, the week in which most Brazilian state governments have introduced social isolation measures, it reached its peak of popularity in that system. In the following week, the interest in the product declined, reaching, at the end of April, rates practically equal to those verified before the beginning of the quarantine.
4 - Mask
Mask is a piece that partially or totally covers the face to hide one’s own identity. The Houaiss Dictionary of the Portuguese Language has 28 different definitions of the word. The meaning 13th is related to its use as a tool to prevent contagion. Of controversial origin (Italian or Arabic), its first meaning, in Europe, was associated with witchcraft or with the devil. Popularly linked to theater and, in Brazil, to carnival, more recently it begun to refer directly to a protection device. Interest in the product has grown since March 8, 2020, and reached its peak (100%) between April 19 and 25.
5 - Chloroquine
Chloroquine (hydroxychloroquine) is a medication used in the treatment and prophylaxis of some types of malaria. The drug became famous in Brazil due to President Jair Bolsonaro’s insistence on touting its effectiveness in fighting the coronavirus, using it as a kind of flag against social isolation. Scientific literature does not prove the president’s thesis. On April 23, the Federal Council of Medicine announced that it does not recommend its use in the treatment of Covid-19, but authorizes it, according to the doctor and patient shared decision.
6 - Wuhan
Wuhan is the capital of central China and an important commercial and logistic center in the country. However, it was not for these attributes that it entered the map of collective imagination. It is considered the cradle of the coronavirus pandemic since there, the first case was identified, on December 31, 2019. This explains the sudden increase in Google searches on the city, following the disclosure of the news about the new disease, in January 2020.
7 - Testing Positive
Testing positive is an appropriate term in medical vocabulary in English . It means that the patient has the disease, the condition (e.g.,pregnancy), or it might reveal the presence of a certain biomarker (such as a genetic predisposition to allergies). With the coronavirus pandemic, the medical jargon left the stronghold of experts to be used in the Brazilian decal format, i.e., direct translation. Although this syntactic construction is not in accordance with language usage, for to test is a transitive verb and as such demands a direct object (like in so-and-so tested the car), this shows how language is a dynamic social process, and incorporates formats that not provided in language usage.
9 - Lockdown
Lockdown is a recent word. Its first printed record dates from 1973 and was used to define the confinement of day prisoners as temporary security measure. Over time, it gained the sense of an emergency measure taken in situations where people are temporarily prevented from entering or leaving a place in the face of a threat of danger. During the period of its implementation, no one can enter or leave the isolated perimeter, such as we have seen in Wuhan, as a measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus. In Brazil, the first searches for the term lockdown on Google are from the first week of March, and its peak was between the 22nd and 28th, the beginning of the quarantine.
10 - Hand Washing
A “wash your hands” query conducted on Google at the end of April 2020 shows 42,800,000 results in 0.65 seconds. This is new. Until mid-March no interest was verified in the term. The week of March 15 was the peak of interest.
12 - Home Office
Home Office is to work from home. One can work from home as a company employee, a self-employed worker, or an “entrepreneur of oneself”. Framework for the relaxation of labor laws in the post-industrial society, this system allows for the maintenance of some activities remotely, during the times of the coronavirus social isolation. It also shows that Jonathan Crary was right when he stated that late capitalism would be a world of the end of sleep. Aiming at functioning 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it imposes imbalances, and the loss of boundaries between public and private, bringing Amazon’s turkers world closer to us.
13 - Zoom
Iconic software of the COVID-19 pandemic, the famous Zoom Meetings reported a steep increase in sessions as of March 2020. They went from 2 million to 6 million. Used for videoconferences, chats, classes, and meetings, it shows that the pandemic has changed the way we “internet,” now in search for new ways to connect more to one another than to devices.
14 - Emergency Aid
Emergency Assistance is the financial benefit given to informal workers, individual microentrepreneurs, the self-employed and unemployed, and its purpose is to provide financial emergency protection for people to cope with the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. One of the program’s biggest challenges is to pay the informal workers who are not listed in the country’s implemented base registries, like the Bolsa Familia and the Cadastro Único registries. Another challenge is to implement a safe and fast operation to pay the estimated 34.6 million families, or 117.5 million people, the potential beneficiaries of the aid, according to IPEA, the Institute of Applied Research.
15 - Lives
The “Lives” are arguably one of the icons of the quarantine. Current practice in the world of entertainment and journalism, “lives,” became common in 2016, with Facebook introducing this function. It was widely used during Brazil’s 2018 presidential campaign, especially by Jair Messias Bolsonaro. But it was with the social isolation of the coronavirus pandemic that they took over the Internet, via Instagram and YouTube, becoming the most searched word between April 13 and 20.
16 - PPE
PPE is the abbreviation for Personal Protective Equipment. It designates the device for the worker’s individual use to protect against risks capable of threatening their safety and health. The use of this type of equipment is recommended for situations where it is not possible to eliminate risks in the environment that the activity is taking place. The exposure of health professionals to risks of contagion by the coronavirus and the need for masks by the population has quadrupled the search for this type of product since the second half of March, 2020, coinciding with the announcement of the first deaths from coronavirus in Brazil.
17 - Pandemic
Pandemic is a disease that spreads through several regions due to contamination processes. Its contagion power, and geographical proliferation and simultaneous occurrence can be considered as relevant or more than its lethality. The oldest record of a pandemic dates back to the Justinian’s plague, caused by the bubonic plague (AD 541) and coming from Egypt, then spreading to Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire (currently Istanbul, capital of Turkey), and from then disseminated to Syria, Persia (Iran), and Europe. The bubonic plague attacked again in the 14th century and received the name of black plague, taking over Europe and Asia. It peaked in 1343 but persisted until the 19th century. It is estimated to have killed 75 to 200 million people. Another historic pandemic was the Spanish Flu,which started in the United States in 1918, and that killed about 50 million people, among which, 35,000 Brazilians. It was the first plague of the 20th century. Four other pandemics followed: the Asian Flu (1957); the Hong Kong Flu (1968), and Influenza type A (2009). The 21st century opens with the pandemic of the new coronavirus, which causes Covid-19.
18 - Cellular monitoring
Cellular monitoring implies molecular surveillance that is introjected into the body without touching it, such as thermometers with infrared sensors. Although it is also macro ocular, expanding towards the compulsory voyeurism to which we are all subjected in social life and in the remote work, mediated by screens. All of this occurs, however, at a paradoxical time in globalization, a culture that could be considered synonym for culture of mobility, when the socially excluded was the one who was immobile. Monitoring for Covid via cell phone, abruptly reversed the equation. Those who can stop and stay at home, the immobile, are now the socially privileged. These are the bodies that can and are traceable, computable, monitorable and curable. In the current “laboratory” that “coronavida” (coronalife) imposes on us, in which complicity with monitoring has become a prerogative of survival, the untraceable one is whom the state had already previously turned its back to. In the spiral of “corona surveillance,” the immobile one is now the invisible-visible that our social violence insists on not seeing.
19 - 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep
24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep is the title of a book by Columbia University Professor Jonathan Crary. In it, the author discusses how the willingness to consume, work, share, respond, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, becomes the structure of our contemporary way of life. In this context, a society that must put to test the need for rest, the last frontier of the process of the financialization of life, emerges.
20 - Google Trends
To visualize the number of Google searches before and after the spread of the coronavirus, we submitted 25 words that make up the Coronary to Google Trends. Google Trends is a tool that monitors the trends of searches conducted on Google . The numbers in the charts represent the research interest in each period. A value of 100 represents the peak popularity of a term. A value of 50 means the term had half the popularity. A score of 0 means there was not enough data on the term. It is a fact that Google Search Engine is not a reflection of the social dynamics. However, the scope of the mechanism and its popularity verified in the handling of the Internet turn it into an indicator of the main social concerns and interests at a given time. Assessing the lexicon of the coronavirus pandemic through its trend graphs reveals nuances of the public’s reactions to the changes that are taking place in their daily life, such as the curve of interest in the purchase of alcohol gel and on information about the coronavirus.
21 - Quarantine
The bubonic plague arrived in Europe through Mediterranean Sea ports, in Italy, in 1347. To contain the pandemic, it was determined that boats from infected places should be isolated for 40 days. The number of days was inspired by the period when Jesus was in the desert, being tempted by the devil. Hence the name “quarantine” (of Italian origin) for the restriction of activities or separation of people who presumably were exposed to a contagious disease, but that are not sick.
22 - Heat Map
A heat map is a data visualization technique that indicates the magnitude of a phenomenon as color, in two dimensions. The variation in color, by hue or intensity, reveals how the phenomenon is grouped or varies. Widely used in the field of molecular biology to identify the behavior of genes in different conditions, they also visually translate information about body temperature, resource intensely used in China with the coronavirus pandemic. The images generated by this type of procedure became a visual translation of the pandemic, which we have appropriated here, in this context. But heat maps are not only used in the health field. One of its most common uses is to monitor public behavior when visiting a website. Software specially designed for this purpose, it tracks the movement of the mouse on the screen, identifying the most clicked points and areas of greatest attention and inattention by users. It is exactly this type of tracking that happens dynamically on this website. The most searched-for words of the lexicon of the coronavirus (the Coronary) react to clicks of visitors, reflecting the collective interest. In this way, we do not just give the public an opportunity to see a common marketing procedure, often overlooked. Above all, it transforms a typical procedure of the distributed surveillance systems of our times into an aesthetic exercise of reflection. It opens the discussion about the symbolic capital of attention, and the methods embedded in the visualities of the coronavirus monitoring. It is important to understand that in the context of contemporary data surveillance, it is not the individual who is the focus, but its integration with a pattern. Heat clusters are not the result, therefore, of elemental interactions, in action and reaction processes. They operate relationally, indicating the distribution of the attention of the entire public on this site, incorporating individual interactions in the constitution of patterns and collective trends.
23 - Covid-19
The disease caused by the new coronavirus is officially known as Covid-19, an acronym for “coronavirus disease 2019”. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared, on January 30, 2020, that the outbreak of the disease caused by the new coronavirus (COVID-19) constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Importance. On March 11, 2020, Covid-19 was characterized by WHO as a pandemic.
24 - Unemployment
According to a study carried out by the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV), Covid-19 will tragically impact the labor market, with a significant increase in unemployment rates. The survey shows it is the largest loss of work placements since the 2008-09 crisis. However, the study predicts that the adverse scenario is likely to persist in the coming months.
25 - Politics of gaze
In a world mediated by different inputs and multiple screens, attention has become a commodity. American economist Herbert Simon, Nobel laureate in 1978, was the first to theorize on the topic, arguing that "a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention." In other words, the diversity of sources of information implies disputes for the focus of the consumer. In the Internet context, this dispute for the attention gave form to the new economy of the gaze. It is fundamental, to retain the attention of the user, to understand not only how their gaze moves through the contents, but the points on which it stops, and its movements of dispersion. A set of techniques is born here, combining elements of cognitive psychology, semiotics, and marketing repertoire aimed at capturing what was once the synonym of the place of freedom: the gaze.
Designing Organizations for and Information-Rich World