Douglas Coupland: New terms for new sensations

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The thing about the future is that it never feels the way we thought it would. New sensations require new terms; below are a few such terms to encapsulate our present moment.

Airport-Induced Identity Dysphoria: Describes the extent to which modern travel strips the traveller of just enough sense of identity so as to create a need to purchase stickers and gift knick-knacks that bolster their sense of slightly eroded personhood: flags of the world, family crests, school and university merchandise.

Anti-Fluke: A situation in the universe in which rigid rules of action exist to prevent coincidences from happening. Given the infinite number of coincidences that could happen, very few ever actually do. The universe exists in a coincidence-hating state of anti-fluke.

Bell's Law of Telephony: No matter what technology is used, your monthly phone bill magically remains about the same size.

Blank-Collar Workers: Formerly middle-class workers who will never be middle-class again and who will never come to terms with that.

Christmas-Morning Feeling: A sensation created by stimulus to the anterior amygdala that leaves one with a strong sense of expectation. (See also Godseeking).

Cloud Blindness: The inability of some people to see faces or shapes in clouds.

Complex Separation: The theory that, in music, a song gets only one chance to make a first impression. After that the brain starts breaking it down, subdividing the musical experience into its various components – lyrical, melodic and so forth.

Cover Buzz: The sensation felt when hearing a cover version of a song one already knows.

Crystallographic Money Theory: The hypothesis that money is a crystallization or condensation of time and free will, the two characteristics that separate humans from other species.

Denarration: The process whereby one's life stops feeling like a story.

Deselfing: Willingly diluting one's sense of self and ego by plastering the internet with as much information as possible. (See also Omniscience Fatigue; Undeselfing)

Dimanchophobia: Fear of Sundays, a condition that reflects fear of unstructured time. Also known as acalendrical anxiety. Not to be confused with didominicaphobia or kyriakephobia, fear of the Lord's Day.

Fictive Rest: The inability of many people to fall asleep until after reading even the tiniest amount of fiction.

Frankentime: What time feels like when you realise that most of your life is spent working with and around a computer and the internet.

Godseeking: An extreme version of Christmas Morning Feeling.

Grim Truth: You're smarter than TV. So what?

Ikeasis: The desire in daily life and consumer life to cling to "generically" designed objects. This need for clear, unconfusing forms is a means of simplifying life amid an onslaught of information.

Instant Reincarnation: The fact that most adults, no matter how great their life is, wish for radical change in their life. The urge to reincarnate while still alive is near universal.

Intravincular Familial Silence: We need to be around our families not because we have so many shared experiences to talk about, but because they know precisely which subjects to avoid.

Humanalai: Things made by humans that exist only on Earth and nowhere else in the universe. Examples include: Teflon, NutraSweet, Paxil and meaningfully sized chunks of element No. 43, technetium.

Internal Voice Blindness: The near universal inability of people to articulate the tone and personality of the voice that forms their interior monologue.

Interruption-Driven Memory: We remember only red traffic lights, never the green ones. The green ones keep us in the flow, the red ones interrupt and annoy us.

Intraffinital Melancholy vs Extraffinital Melancholy: Which is lonelier: To be single and lonely, or to be lonely within a dead relationship?

Karaokeal Amnesia: Most people don't know all the lyrics to almost any song, particularly the ones they hold most dear. (See also Lyrical Putty)

Limited Pool Romantic Theory: The belief that there is a finite number of times in which one can fall in love, most commonly six.

Lyrical Putty: The lyrics one creates in one's head in the absence of knowing a song's real lyrics.

Malfactory Aversion: The ability to figure out what it is in life you don't do well, and then to stop doing it.

Me Goggles: The inability to accurately perceive oneself as others do.

Memesphere: The realm of culturally tangible ideas.

Omniscience Fatigue: The burn-out that comes with being able to know the answer to almost anything online.

Post-Human: Whatever it is that we become next.

Proceleration: The acceleration of acceleration.

Pseudoalienation: The inability of humans to create genuinely alienating situations. Anything made by humans is a de facto expression of humanity. Technology cannot be alienating because humans created it. Genuinely alien technologies can be created only by aliens. Technically, a situation one might describe as alienating is, in fact, "humanating".

Rosenwald's Theorem: The belief that all the wrong people have self-esteem.

Situational Disinhibition: Social contrivances within which one is allowed to become disinhibited, that is, moments of culturally approved disinhibition: when speaking with fortunetellers, to dogs and other pets, to strangers and bartenders in bars, or with Ouija boards.

Standard Deviation: Feeling unique is no indication of uniqueness, and yet it is the feeling of uniqueness that convinces us we have souls.

Star Shock: The disproportionate way that meeting celebrities feels slightly like being told a piece of life-changing news.

Stovulax: A micro-targeted drug of the future designed to stop fantastically specific OCD cases, in this case a compulsion involving the inability of some people to convince themselves, after leaving the house, that the stove is turned off.

Undeselfing: The attempt, usually frantic and futile, to reverse the deselfing process.

Zoosumnial Blurring: The notion that animals probably don't see much difference between dreaming and being awake.

© 2010 The New York Times

Douglas Coupland's latest novel, 'Player One', is published on 7 October by Heinemann

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