Etymology: In 2010, journalist James Fallows coined the term “security theater” in an article for The Atlantic, referring to measures put in place after the 9/11 attacks to give the general public a heightened sense of security. According to Derek Thompson, a colleague of Fallows, the coronavirus outbreak has generated similar performative behavior surrounding cleanliness. Writing in The Atlantic in July 2020, he borrowed Fallows’ phrase and dubbed it “hygiene theater. Meaning: There are many things in life that have little or no purpose other than giving us reassurance: the sound of a car door slamming closed, the whir of a cash machine, the shutter noise of a smartphone camera. The same techniques are also used to offer a sense of security during the darkest of times. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 45 Yoga with Adriene The internet’s best friend is—finally—finding her own flow. Arts & Culture Garden Issue 45 Piet Oudolf The Dutch designer bringing life—and death—to traditional gardens. Arts & Culture Issue 45 Thomas MacDonell The conservationist transforming the Highlands. Arts & Culture Design Issue 45 The New Craftsmen From the Outer Hebrides to central London, Catherine Lock is celebrating the crafts heritage of Great Britain. Arts & Culture Music Issue 45 Gerard & Kelly On dance, domesticity and the giants of modernism. Arts & Culture Issue 45 Hang in There How to make the best of a bad job.