Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi
Photo: PTI

Who or what is a covidiot?

As the novel coronavirus affects an increasing number of people in the world, there has been many changes. People have been asked to work remotely; staying home and doing nothing all day, everyday is suddenly 'cool' rather than strange; and stockpiling of amenities seems to be the new trend.

There have also been new words coined to tackle the viral pandemic.

Which brings us back to our original point. What does "covidiot" mean?

An amalgamation of "coronavirus" and "idiot" it is easy to venture a guess that it refers to idiots as seem in the time of the coronavirus.

Going by Urban Dictionary, it refers to "someone who ignores the warnings regarding public health or safety". More specifically, it can be used to refer to people engaging in odd habits such as stockpiling goods, those who "unnecessarily hoard toilet paper" or to those in possession of a "herd mentality".

Comedy in the time of coronavirus: If you search #COVIDIOTS on Twitter, you get PM Modi's handle!

The word has gained popularity in the last couple of months as people continue to lend credence to the word with their antics.

On Monday, "COVIDIOTS" (in all caps no less) was one of the top trending hashtags on Twitter.

But when you do click on it, or type it into the search bar, the social media site appears to display a rather strange sense of humour, throwing up Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Twitter handle as the first search result.

Below the search bar, under the 'People' section one can now see the Prime Minister's personal Twitter handle.

Comedy in the time of coronavirus: If you search #COVIDIOTS on Twitter, you get PM Modi's handle!

Now to be fair, this (most likely) isn't a deliberate act. After all, the Twitter algorithm picks up on what other people are writing and posting.

Coming as this does in the wake of the Janata Curfew, and the rather unfortunate incidents where people took to the streets in droves to celebrate the fight against coronavirus, Twitter is likely picking up on the words and handles used in those posts.

"Look at these #COVIDIOTS our PM #NarendraModi asked the whole nation to self quarantine n ring Bell from home..but these Idiots made a procession of it," wrote one irate Twitter user sharing a video of a procession where people are wearing masks and banging plates.

There are also those who utilise every hashtag they can find, without rhyme or reason. Many of the posts celebrating the curfew or applauding the work of essential service personnel has been tagged with both "#covidiots" and "#NarendraModi".

We suspect that many might not have known what the word meant.

Whatever the reason may be, the Twitter search results now include the Prime Minister. And while we're loath to criticise, looking at how that came about, perhaps there is a reason the word continues to persist?

This is not the first time Prime Minister Modi has ended up as an unfortunate search result. In 2015, Google searches for the "World's Most Stupid Prime Ministers" showed Prime Minister Modi alongside others including David Cameron and Tony Abbot. Google however had an explanation. An article by Reuters titled "Why work with India’s new leader? It’s the economy, stupid" had connected the Prime Minister's name to the word "criminal" and created the gaffe.

Prior to that he had made it to the "Top Criminals of India" list after commenting on politicians with a criminal background and subsequently being quoted by a British daily.

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