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Published: Wednesday, May 10, 2017 1:00 p.m. CST

I am hereby proclaiming a new word for the English language. I’m calling it, “webcoma.” I define “webcoma” as “The vegetative state of stupor caused by having one’s nose buried in a smartphone for a prolonged period of time.” It follows that “webcoma-ing” is when someone, or a group of people, are walking along staring at their smartphones, not paying attention to their surroundings. People have been known to walk into oncoming traffic, or off a cliff, when they are “webcoma-ing.”

Question: Does a family that webcomas together, head homa together? Or drift their separate ways?

The definition of “coma” includes “lack of response to stimuli.” That pretty much sums up a “webcoma.” If Donald Trump can invent “biggly” from “big league,” I can invent “webcoma.”

“Texting-while-driving” is no longer a viable description for someone involved in a traffic accident when using their smartphone. Texting is only one of the many, many functions you can engage in with these devices. You can check your email, you can send an email, you can engage social media, you can check the weather and radar map, you can Google; and with the proper app, you can do most anything, like check the score of your favorite sports team, watch a sports event or movie, or check a stock index. The list goes on ad infinitum. We may soon read where, “The accident occurred while the driver was webcoma-ing.”

Thanksgiving dinner is a notorious time for overeating. People (mostly men) flock to the couch to watch the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions, then promptly fall asleep. This is called a “foodcoma.” Now, after such a meal, people (men, women and children) flock to their smartphones and ignore each other. Hence, “webcoma.”    

This phenomenon is not necessarily bad, as the so-called “experts” are wont to hop up on a soapbox and proclaim (after they mute their smartphones). I recently heard a language guru say that young people, who are wizards with these devices, are just as socially adept, have quite good language skills, and pay just as much attention to their friends and fellow man as ever before. Maybe more so.

I look upon this stage of evolution (smartphones grafted to hand) as similar to the effects that television, or even the telephone, had when they were first introduced to the populace. Parents alarmingly noticed that their children had a white, pasty look on their faces as they stared mindlessly at the television on a Saturday morning, being propagandized by such-and-such a sugary breakfast cereal or certain brand of BB gun. But it was okay for the parents to fall asleep that night watching “The Twilight Zone,” “Johnny Carson,” or “Alfred Hitchcock.” The telephone was condemned by certain groups of people as “Satan’s pipeline.” We now look upon these periods of invention with nostalgia and call them, “The good ole days.”

Knowledge is power. When I can ask a hand-held device by voice how many people voted in the last election, and get an answer instantly, that’s powerful and miraculous. So what if Big Brother is tracking my web usage, location and spending habits? I could give a rip.

I am hereby proclaiming “webcoma” a word. In a few years you will notice it being included into the dictionary as a new word and you will think, “It’s about time.” Language is constantly changing, with new words being added and old, out-of-date words, dropped, many of them technology related.

Pronunciations also shift. Ginnie recently took me to Bolivar, Mo., — pronounced like “Oliver.”

“Webcoma.” You heard it first, right here in the Empty Nest.

Contact Curt Swarm at curtswarm@yahoo.com

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