Photo by Joshua Hoehne via Unsplash.

This week three mystifying concepts came together and I have been puzzling over their meanings:  Cancel Culture, Memes and Stonks.

The term “Cancel Culture” is used a lot on cable news and is related to “calling out” a person or organization for perceived bad behavior.  “Calling out” seems like a dumb concept.  What does it mean?  Is it akin to “pointing out” there is a problem?   Are there consequences to calling someone or something out?  Not that I know of.  “Cancel Culture” is a little more significant in that it implies that there are consequences to being “called out.” As usual, Wikipedia explains it best:  Cancel culture (or call-out culture) is a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – either online via social media, in the real world, or both. Those who are subject to this ostracism are said to be “canceled.”

Meme” is a trickier concept.  We all know what it means to cancel something, but “meme” is a cute little word that can mean a variety of things.  It is “an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.”  OK.  It’s non genetic, so it doesn’t involve sex.  As far as I can tell, it involves the internet and those who spend too much time on it.  Thus, on January 20 at the Inauguration, Bernie Sanders in his thick Vermont coat and little-kid mittens became a “meme.”  As of yesterday, I found that I could buy a crocheted toy likeness of Bernie in his outfit for only $69.  Now that’s some meme!

And now for “Stonk.”  I can barely understand what it means to “sell short,” much less the turmoil in the stock market this week, but when SNL came up with a skit about “stonk,” I just had to find out.  Stonk used to be a military term for bombardment.  Nowadays it has an additional meaning, which is (loosely) an alternative and derogatory term for stocks.  The Reddit forum users who caused the price of GameStop and AMC stocks to shoot up like rockets this week were expressing contempt for the way the stock market (or stonk market) operates.  While “meme” is a cute word, “stonk” is not.  You can just tell from the sound of it that it is contemptuous.  Stink, stank, stonk.*


*I hope this has been as enlightening for you to read as it was fun for me to write.  Thank you to the new subscribers and welcome!



About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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