Barton Goldsmith: New language for a new time of cooperation

The Examiner

A few words and expressions have taken on new meaning during this pandemic. Here are some.

1. Pivot: To change direction in order to accommodate the pandemic. Outside restaurant seating, doing therapy and medical consultation virtually, finding new ways to connect with friends and family on Zoom, and saying "Unmute yourself" too often.

Barton Goldsmith is a columnist for Tribune News Service. (Handout/TNS)

2. Social distance: Staying at least six feet away from another person will help slow the spread, but if I sneeze, you'll want to be more like 12 feet away. We are all different, but if you want to stay well, the safer you can be, the better.

3. Mask etiquette: Wearing a face covering and not complaining about it to anyone who will listen. I think masks will become the norm, just like they are in most Asian countries, so I'm just going to get used to it.

4. Second wave: Many people are concerned about and are bracing for a second outbreak of the virus, which also explains the national freezer shortage. Medical experts are very concerned that the seasonal flu combined with COVID-19 will sicken more people than the hospitals can handle.

5. Safe at home: We are preparing to continue this practice well into the new year. For us, it is the wisest thing to do. Many folks don't like it and will continue to party in public, which is all the more reason to make your place as nice as you can and stay home.

6. Social cooperation: Abiding by the health guidelines, using common sense, and keeping politics out of it. Without social cooperation, we are going to have to live with the virus longer.

7. Pod: A family or a group of families and/or friends of a low number who choose to interact just with each other. Think of it as a kind of quarantine group. Families share child care, teaching duties, and shopping, and everyone works remotely so that no one goes outside the circle.

8. The new normal: From the small screen to the real world, everything is different and changing rapidly. It's like having to get used to the ground constantly shifting under our feet – hard to do, yet necessary. We have to be adaptable and figure it out as we go forward.

9. The long-haulers: People who have survived the coronavirus but who are still experiencing various uncomfortable symptoms, from rashes to shortness of breath to infections. We still don't know how this disease is going to affect all of us, which is yet another reason to be careful.

Those who are familiar with this vocabulary are probably already doing most of the right things. But you can always do more. If we all recognize that we are in this together, we will beat this thing. The simplest guide is to think of the other person first.

Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time." Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith, or email him at