... and it's really hard to notice an absence, by the way, so it's important when anything like this turns up (and the observation is vulnerable if in fact you can point to the supposedly absent thing anywhere) — but here are 2 things that I've noticed have gone missing. One was emergent and got nipped in the bud. The other was rampant and now rare.
Emergent but nipped in the bud: "Microaggression." Last month, I told the story of the short public life of "Microaggression — the word that died," and I'm checking again this morning for signs of life. Seeing none, I proclaim it really most sincerely dead.
Once rampant and now rare: "Addiction." I've had an "addiction" tag for a long time, and I'm always on the lookout for things getting characterized as addiction, that is, things other than the obvious substance abuse problems. This is a rhetorical move, deployed to mute individual responsibility and to stimulate a response from The Community of the Caring. Back in September, I noticed that the Chinese government was pushing the notion that people are addicted to the Internet (to justify government suppression of free speech). That's a strong sign of the dubiousness of "addiction" rhetoric. And looking over a few years of the "addiction" tag, I think the great source of awakening to the bullshit that is "addiction" talk was the notion of sex addiction, which arose in the fumbling efforts at reputation repair in the very conspicuous cases of Tiger Woods and Anthony Weiner. When I dig back before that stuff, I see a lot of discussion — in the American major and new media — about internet addiction. That's in the 2005-2007-2008 period. Now, "internet addiction" talk is a Chinese government con.