Goodbye to language

Slang words are often vague, and ill-informed, and yet they always seem to be relevant.

Chance Wellnitz

Pistanthrophobia is the fear of trusting people due to negative past experiences. However, you won’t find the word or its definition in any legitimate dictionary; you’ll only find it on Tumblr. It could be an entire plotline of a Sofia Coppola movie, but it’s a feeling we can all relate to.

New non-terms don’t always key into specific, yet hashtag-able feelings, though. If you’ve gone out to eat recently, you may have noticed restaurateurs using the term “handhelds” on their menu for — you guessed it — anything you eat with your hands: a sandwich, a mozzarella stick or even a loose sausage.

The problem with this isn’t that they’re repurposing a word that’s fallen out of use; it’s that these neologisms seek to make connections out of nothing. A restaurant’s locally sourced sweet potato fries and fusion tacos are more connected by the eatery’s overarching pretention than the method by which they’re eaten.

Or, perhaps, could it be that the problem is me? Where is the Rocket Power for adults? Where is the show that teaches me the slang I need to know to survive, now that I’ve grown out of Nickelodeon and my adolescence?

When confronted with this new word, “pistanthrophobia,” my first instinct was to attack rather than to embrace. Even within the context of this short column, a condescending tone toward both trendy restaurants and social media culture was forged. Hell, it’s essentially a piece calling sandwiches “handhelds,” and the title is a reference to a Jean-Luc Godard film.

Maybe it’s only a matter of time before I’m spending my days on a porch, reminiscing about the days when sandwiches were sandwiches and handhelds were handhelds.