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 50 Close Knit Close Knit: Meet the weavers keeping traditional Egyptian tapestrymaking alive. Arts & Culture Issue 50 The Old Gays Inside a Californian TikTok “content house” of a very different stripe. Arts & Culture Issue 50 New Roots The Palestinian art and agriculture collective sowing seeds of community. Arts & Culture Issue 50 Angela Trimbur An all-out tour de force. Arts & Culture Issue 50 Peace & Quiet In the UK, a centuries-old Quaker meeting house encourages quiet reflection. Arts & Culture Issue 50 Free Wheelers On the road with London’s Velociposse Cycling Club.