Do you have a mind virus?

Updated: Apr 12

Let’s talk about how a word used repeatedly becomes rooted in the mind to the point of going viral or being a mind virus. A mind virus, as the name suggests, prompts us to use the word even in the wrong context.

The word “impact,” for example, is quite the infectious mind virus. Although “impact” is a verb meaning “to hit something with great force,” the word has become a noun on a grand scale, especially in weather reports, as in the storm’s impact or, even worse, impacts.

The correct noun in this context is “effect,” meaning “a change that results when something is done or happens.” “We saw the storm’s effects, including the damaged houses, for miles.”

Why does this matter? As marketing professionals, I believe we have a responsibility to use the correct word in context to ensure better messaging, in addition to preserving our language. The correct word communicates precisely.