© Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America/TNSNews headlines on the impeachment trial of Donald Trump are displayed outside of the Fox headquarters on Feb. 9, 2021, in New York.
Americans will soon - at long last - be mingling in bars, restaurants and live event venues from coast to coast.
But considering how we've all been consuming massive amounts of media from different outlets while hunkered down during the pandemic, many of us are going to have very different ideas about what the country has become over the past 14 months.
Those who have been plugged into "the mainstream media" will reenter a challenging world where an out-of-control pandemic killed nearly 600,000 Americans and an historically inclusive election brought a new president to power.
Fox News viewers, however, appear fascinated by children's books and toys from the 1950s. And, much like the Japanese soldiers who continued fighting World War II long after it ended, many believe the outcome of the 2020 election is still in question.
There's a lot to discuss.
The terms "Foxmania" and "Foxitis" were coined recently by a defense attorney for a Fox News viewer who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, claiming his client was radicalized by Fox's steady stream of alternative information. While the lexicon below may not explain what Fox's millions of viewers are thinking, it could make what they're saying less confusing to the rest of us. That's a start. © Fox News/TNS,his new Fox News late-night show.
THE MEDIA (aka mainstream media or MSM): When Fox News refers to "the media," it's suggesting all other media outlets are part of a collective bent on misleading those who stray from Fox News. In other words, if Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop website runs an article featuring questionable information about vaginal egg inserts, there is also (apparently) reason to doubt everything reported by the New York Times, Washington Post, PBS, NPR, ABC, NBC, CBS and the BBC. It's like saying you can't trust "the machines" when your toaster breaks.
CANCEL CULTURE: Fox News is obsessed with "cancel culture" or being "canceled." The term is used to describe people or works that are cast into obscurity because they are deemed retroactively offensive. For example, O.J. Simpson was accused of killing his wife and a friend. Though not convicted, he has since been unable to find acting or broadcasting work. In other words, he's been "canceled." Fox Nation believes cancel culture has gone too far and poses a threat to everyone. That idea isn't without some mainstream support.
WOKE: Liberal pundits use "woke" to describe someone who is enlightened in matters of racial and social justice. Fox News viewers tend to use that word or "woke culture" to deride people who are hypersensitive and zealous when it comes to such issues. If someone at the bar at Buffalo Wild Wings describes your opinions as "woke," it may not be a compliment.
BIG TECH: In addition to blaming "The Media" for undermining the Fox News narrative, Fox suggests the internet is largely biased against their politics.This stems largely, though not entirely, from unofficial Fox News contributor Donald Trump being "canceled" from mainstream social media platforms after repeatedly violating Twitter and Facebook rules by inciting violence.
ANTIFA/BLM: Many Fox News viewers (more or less) believe antifa, a left-wing ideology, is a powerful quasi-terror network that's always lurking just outside their cul-de-sac. Fox sometimes links antifa and Black Lives Matter, a civil rights movement that has at times championed similar causes. Fox and its viewers commonly used the racially coded term "looters and rioters" in 2020, though that definition became murky following the Jan. 6 looting and rioting at the U.S. Capitol by predominantly white conservatives.
MR. POTATO HEAD: In February, toymaker Hasbro announced it would repackage its 1952 toy Mr. Potato Head as "Potato Head." This infuriated Fox News viewers, who saw it as a bridge too far for the "woke" and "cancel culture" crowds. It remains a frequently mentioned talking point in Fox programming.
DR. SEUSS: In March, Dr. Seuss Enterprises took six less-known Dr. Seuss books out of print after educators claimed their 20th-century renderings come across as racist today. Fox News personalities also see this as an overreach. Dr. Seuss classics including "The Cat in the Hat" and "One Fish Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish" remain very much available.
HUNTER BIDEN: Hunter Biden is the president's middle-aged son who famously had a drug problem. Fox News is obsessed with the 51-year-old lawyer and incensed that "the media" doesn't share their fixation. Emails said to be from Biden's laptop were published shortly before the election, which appear to speak to his history of addiction. There are also questions about his business dealings overseas, though he's been charged with no crimes.
VIRTUE SIGNALING: Fox News frequently accuses their adversaries of "virtue signaling." It's a term for sanctimonious people who want everyone to know they are "woke" individuals. Masks were cited by Fox News as an example of virtue signaling during the pandemic. Fox pundits are known to wear shiny crosses around their necks and flag pins on their lapels.
GUTFELD! Last month, Fox News introduced "Gutfeld!" as an alternative to late night comedy shows like "The Late Show," and "The Daily Show," which reference events in "the mainstream news" and mock Fox watchers. Should you find yourself discussing Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers or Stephen Colbert at a party and someone brings up Greg Gutfeld, that's what they're referencing.
SPORTS: There was a time when neighbors could talk about sports in a bar without anyone being offended. No more. Major League Baseball angered Fox Newsers by moving its 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta in reaction to Georgia's change in election laws, following a run of Democratic electoral victories. While the National Football League remains popular on Fox affiliates where its televised, that league has also taken criticism on Fox News for softening its position on "woke" athletes like Colin Kaepernick. As for the National Basketball Association's standing among Foxmaniacs, well, take a guess.
THE BORDER: When we all went into lockdown, it was left-wing and moderate media organizations that reported frequently on difficult conditions at the our nation's border with Mexico. Now, it's Fox News that's suddenly concerned with the plight of refugees and immigrants hoping to enter the U.S. While Fox News viewers and people in the mainstream may have different thoughts on how to resolve the issue, it is at least common ground for discussion.