In 2018, O Canada’s lyrics were made gender neutral. This change comes at a time when certain key public figures refuse to use gender neutral language. The linguistic tension and ideological divide within Canada creates a haunted feeling around certain minority groups, leaving everyone feeling out of place. This article examines how viral ideas and word choices spread through media technologies via the ‘word virus’. We use the figure of the zombie to show how the word virus becomes bad ideology, one that spreads and takes over certain spaces and enacts the presence of the insider/outsider. To reflect on ‘word viruses’ gone awry, we borrow and build on scholarship from the emerging field of hauntology made popular by Jacques Derrida and Avery Gordon. Ultimately, we present Tony Burgess’s horror novel Pontypool Changes Everything turned Canadian horror film Pontypool as a speculative case study, since Burgess’s texts suggest that what is more infectious than the zombie-outsider is the insider’s own language, which identifies and labels the outsider. By positing a possible cure for the word virus within Pontypool, the film adaptation suggests that the ways in which we cease becoming infected with bad ideas is not to stop speaking or isolate ourselves through quarantine, but deliberately seek out the stranger in order to challenge and change the meaning of words.