Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Captain Buycott

Why we'll all be peacocking and buycotting this year
Forget SuBo and Twitter, Susan Daly reveals the 'hot' buzzwords that will be on everybody's lips in 2010

This time last year, the world had never heard of SuBo. But by the end of 2009, everyone -- including Oprah -- could recount the tale of Susan Boyle, never-been-kissed Scottish spinster, surprise star of Britain's Got Talent.

What a difference a year can make to the hot words on everyone's lips. By August, the Collins English Dictionary announced that it was adding the word "Twittering" to its hallowed pages to recognise the phenomenal rise of the social networking site. If someone had asked 12 months earlier if you "tweeted", you might have thought they had confused you for a bird.

Some of 2009's more used and abused words we could have done without knowing. We tried "jeggings" for the first time, the hideous skintight cross between denim and leggings.

For those who had given into the cult of the iPhone, conversation revolved around the "apps" -- that's applications to the iPhone-less -- they had downloaded on to their new toy.

The less fortunate found that their jobs were not "recession-proof". They had to consider "re-skilling" in the hope of landing a new post.

Those affected by the "credit crunch" (that phrase was so 2008) could only afford a "staycation", ie to spend their two-week holiday at home on the couch watching box sets.

But it's a new year -- and that means a whole mouthful of new jargon. The year 2010 was but a pup when the new buzzwords started to filter through. Anyone for a spot of "exergaming"? (You may not know it, but if your family have a Wii Fit or some such exercise video game, you're already in the virtual fitness club).

Confused? You won't be if you hold on to our glossary to the jargon that will be on everybody's lips this year. Warning: some words might prove to be highly irritating.

LIFESTYLE Peacocking -- January, recession, bad weather: this isn't the most cheerful time of year is it? Boo to all that, say fashion-forward types. This year's hottest threads will be in neon colours, make-up will be given an injection of acid brights and accessories will be in vibrant, stand-out hues -- all designed to fly in the face of how miserable we are supposed to be feeling.

Voluntourism -- Last year's staycation is over. This year, we're travelling again -- but with a purpose. Volunteering on worthy projects a la Niall Mellon's township housing challenge in South Africa will reach peak popularity as people either stretch their redundancy payoff by spending the year volunteering abroad, or find it counts as sustainable travel.

Maybe they'll even celebrate their "canniversary" -- the anniversary of the day they lost their old job -- while away on a voluntour.

Generation G -- Not Generation Greed, but Generation Generosity. Social networking sites have been promoting concepts like "pay it forward" and "one random act of kindness a day" for a while now.

The idea is that economics and capitalism have failed us -- so we should be investing in "happynomics" instead and finding out what really makes the world go round.

Ghost tweeters -- Twitter became a staple of last year's lexicon. This year, as more people join in the business of posting updates about their daily activities, competition to be noticed and collect "followers" on the site has become fierce. Some Twitter account holders are even turning to wittier pals to rewrite their Tweets for them. No fair, folks.

Fitness-training tools -- So you think you can just fling on a pair of runners and go for a run? Think again. While many continue to shy away from expensive gym memberships, technology will continue to shoulder its way into our exercise regimes.

Tracking devices like the Fitbit and GoWear fit, and online training software will offer training schedules and progress checks, as will downloadable "apps" (they haven't gone away you know) on iPhones and other personal gadgets.

CONSUMER/BUSINESS Buycotting -- This is the antithesis of a boycott of a company because, for example, they use child labour to make their products. Buycotts are the way forward; consumers actively support a company that they feel runs its business in a sustainable, ethically-conscious way.

W -- We know what you're thinking -- this one's about two years out of date. It's not. This letter "W" is nothing to do with George "Dubya" Bush. The Economist magazine is, in fact, predicting that the most overused piece of business jargon this year will be the letter "W".

It refers to a W-shaped economy, which looks like a graph of how the burgeoning recovery will peter out in the second half of 2010 "as stimulus-spending fades" but then resumes in 2011 to shoot for the stars. Good news for next year then.

Rental culture -- Renting rather than buying property has been very "in" since the property crash. The new "rent, don't own" attitude is beginning to extend to other areas.

This year it will be perfectly acceptable to rent everything, from musical instruments to clothes, to the artwork on the walls of your (rented) home. Lifeswapping -- bartering your house, clothes, homegrown veg and so on, will also gain popularity.

Next-besting -- Only eat a certain brand of bread? Never dream of straying from Barry's Gold Blend tea bags? Shopping around for the best value in groceries means that more of us are actually ditching our old favourite brands and trying new ones to see if we can continue to reduce our shopping bills.

And when we find a new shampoo/yogurt we can live with, why, that's the Next Best Thing.

Underbanked -- The reputation of high finance has been so shredded that -- to use a phrase that is so 2009 -- banks are like, OMG, total fail.

Lack of public confidence in banks and disgust at NAMA could lead to us adopting the term currently gripping America: "Underbanked" is a person who has chosen to have minimal contact with a bank, using other methods for paying bills, transferring money etc.

TECHNOLOGY Cloud-computing -- At the moment, data and applications that we use in computing are stored on our desktops and laptops.

The move is to store that data from now on in global servers or "the cloud" so that you can access it from anywhere in the world, and it will never be lost. Google's Chrome OS and the launch of Microsoft's Office Web Apps in the first-half of this year will be a major step.

Emotionology -- We're all feeling a little vulnerable these days. Scientists and product designers are banking on our need to be treated gently: they are developing products that are sensitive to their owner's mood.

We will be soon looking at music players that can sense which playlist you need to hear and jewellery that changes colour with your mood (a new take on those cheap "mood rings" of childhood).

Mass mingling -- We've been told that online social networking sites will be the death of human contact. Pope Benedict worried himself at the start of last year that "obsessive use" of Facebook and MySpace can foster false friendships and lead to isolation. (Ironically, this was around the same time as the Vatican got its own channel on YouTube.)

But according to trendwatching.com, people are making more and more use of the internet to make arrangements to meet up in real life with strangers who they have come in online contact with and who have similar interests, politics and hobbies.

Energy dieting -- While governments have been fighting over having to cut down on their carbon emissions and wasteful use of energy, we mere mortals have been much better at implementing energy-efficient practices in our homes for a very simple reason: saving energy means saving money.

This year, as the phasing out of incandescent lightbulbs continues in earnest and the Big Freeze has cost us a fortune in heating bills, households will find themselves on a permanent energy diet.

Another piece of eco-jargon -- greenpliances -- also feeds into this trend.

These are items like soapless dishwashers that are not only kind to the environment but, because of their efficiency, kind to the pocket.


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