‘So many have forgotten what words such as ‘literally’ and ‘Hitler’ mean,’ say experts
By Klara Woldenga, Humour Editor
Dr. David Franklin has seen a lot in his 20 years as a Metro Vancouver general practitioner. However, according to him, this is the first time he has seen such an influx of unique amnesia cases in people below the age of 50.
“Over the past few years it’s been to house call after house call,” Dr. Franklin told the Other Press. “And I don’t even own a phone or a car. I don’t know how I’ve been doing it.”
According to recent reports, 75 percent of those born between the years of 1985 and 2000 have been diagnosed with “word amnesia,” defined as the person’s inability to retain or accurately recall what specific words mean and how they work in conversation.
“We have seen a rise in people forgetting very specific words and phrases,” said Dr. Franklin. “‘Literally Hitler’ is our most common example. I’ve heard it constantly being used when subjects describe someone or something they don’t like. I open up a dictionary and teach them what both those words mean, but they still continue to call others ‘Literally Hitler.’ It’s very disturbing.”
So far, Vancouver word amnesia reports have hit over 5,000 this year, with the majority of cases coming in from Tumblr, Twitter, and Reddit. According to recent reports, these cases have slowly been seeping into classrooms, coffee shops, and workplaces.
“I’ve tried everything,” local history teacher Joan Marin told the Other Press. “After I started hearing my students call others ‘Literally Hitler,’ I sat everyone down and explained who Hitler actually was: The dictator of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945. He initiated World War II and created the Holocaust. I then brought in the English teacher to explain what the word ‘literally’ meant.”
Unfortunately, Marin’s efforts only lead to the students calling her, along with the English teacher, “Literally Hitler.”
“It was really scary for a couple of moments,” Marin told reporters. “I thought that, for a second, I had fallen into a Twilight Zone-esque situation and had literally become Hitler. I thought about how I would explain to my friends and family that I was now, through no fault of my own, literally Hitler. Also, I thought about how I would have to get used to having such a stupid mustache. It was impossible to imagine solutions to both those things.”
Luckily for Marin, this was only a flash-in-the-pan thought—once she looked in the mirror she realized that she was not, in fact, Adolf Hitler.
“This is a really big problem,” Marin said. “I don’t want to be a dictator or anything, but I think we need a solution to this issue.”
Common early signs include becoming extremely outraged at YouTube comments, saying “This is not a joke,” when it clearly is a joke, and saying “it’s a joke” when it’s clearly not a joke.
“This disease affects so many people, especially the friends and family connected to those who have it,” Dr. Franklin told the Other Press. “It can be very scary to forget what words actually mean and how language actually works. If you see the first signs of this disease in yourself or a loved one, please call your doctor and schedule an appointment.”