Hello, dear readers! I hope you all had a lovely weekend. I am still ill, and thus not up to my maximum rhetorical prowess (how embarrassing), so please bear with me on tonight’s post.
Let’s finish off the week with another Facebook tribute (click here if you missed my reflection on Facebook a couple days ago). I’ve seen several articles this week about the ways in which Facebook has changed our language, and as a linguaphile, I’ve found this topic fascinating. I know that our language is changing more rapidly than ever, due to the technology boom–not only does it enable more rapid/frequent conversation, but it also creates new concepts which have never before been named.
These lists from Mashable and CNN were great, in my opinion–and some of my choices overlap with theirs. However, for tonight’s Top 10 list, I enlisted the help of my sister. She and I frequently use social media terms in our conversation, to our dad’s chagrin. We do it partly to be funny (that chagrin thing–sorry, Dad), but also partly because it’s so relevant. Social media is pervasive, right?
I hope you enjoy my Top 10 Words (that Jennifer and I use) from Social Media list. Thanks to Jennifer for the collaboration. 🙂
Top 10 Words from Social Media
This word is more committal than the usual meaning. If you “Like” something (and you must use air quotes to distinguish), it means you approve of it enough to put your permanent digital signature on it.
This is when you “more than like” something. No, it’s not love–it’s “sharing.” This goes beyond putting your signature on something–you are presenting it to the world as something you believe in, whether it’s a social awareness campaign for cancer research or a video of a baby panda sneezing. When I tell Jennifer she should “share” an outfit she’s wearing, I don’t just mean that she should let me borrow it (this is always implied); I also mean that she should “share” it on Facebook so the world can enjoy her good fashion taste as much as I do.
3. That’s a Profile Pic
This term is a stamp of approval. It’s used to describe a picture of someone that you believe captures their personality and and most attractive angle. It doesn’t even have to be a literal suggestion that someone use the picture as their profile picture–it’s just giving your endorsement to the photo itself for whatever future use it may find.
On the other hand, this term can also be a dare on a particularly unflattering, unfortunate picture (usually a candid). You get some major
street cyber cred if you take the challenge–people see you’re secure enough with yourself that you’d choose a physically unattractive photo to represent yourself with. But…you’re choosing an unflattering picture (and perhaps lack of better judgement) to represent yourself. It’s a toss-up, case-by-case scenario.
This one is, by far, the most annoying to our dad. To hashtag something verbally (finger-taps for extra points) means you are suggesting something become popular–that it is common or funny enough to go “viral.” That it’s some kind of universal truth. Which brings me to our next word…
Sometimes, something becomes so popular so quickly that it can only be described as “viral.” It’s a really interesting reimagination of the word, because like a physical virus (like the one I’m currently experiencing), “viral” things often get modified as the pass from person to person. Like Jennifer said, “You’d only want to be viral on social media!” Yes, agreed, Jennifer. (I’ve tried not to cough on you.)
Life imitating art imitating life. This is something like “viral”–when a still image is popular enough (usually “funny”) to go viral–especially with modification potential–it’s a meme. This one is based on pictures, not words, and it’s up to the user to put new words onto the image. This is one Jennifer and I like to recreate IRL–that’s internet-shorthand for “in real life”–when we are especially proud or determined about something:
Maybe “stalking” has always been the ultimate form of flattery, but nowadays, there’s a lot less creepiness to the term. Saying you’ve stalked someone is a compliment that their Facebook profile was interesting enough to capture your attention to wade through a few pictures, status updates, and of course, the “about” section. The degree of intensity is always vague, but anything on your Facebook is fair game to be “stalked” in a totally acceptable way…so, dear readers, as I said in my last post, be mindful of what you’re putting out there for all to see, because “stalking” is the trendiest new way to show admiration. 😉
At the opposite end of the spectrum of flattery is the term “unfriend.” Unfriending someone is the ultimate insult to someone–it’s telling them you’re done associating with them in any way for the rest of your life. Does that sound more dramatic than it could possibly be? Think about it–your Facebook network includes everyone from your family and closest friends to minimal acquaintances–they are all “friends” in Facebook terms. So unfriending someone means you are cutting off all communication. It feels like a formality more akin to the 18th century than the 21st, but the quietness of it–enabled by the technological magic of Facebook–will leave the unfriended haunted and bare-faced, wondering when you cut them off and how long they thought you were still friends and WEREN’T! Dun dun dun…
In most cases, this is how “the world” (your social network) knows if your relationship is really serious or not. It’s another step between dating and marriage, and, as subtle a click as it is, it’s an announcement everyone is sure to see. Of course, some people now just hide the relationship part of their profile to avoid fuss over it–all well and good. It’s a personal choice. Think of this as a virtual promise ring. When you ask a new couple if they’re “Facebook-official,” you’re really asking how serious (or how private) they are.
Last, but not least, on our list is the word “Facebook” as a verb. The verb can mean any type of interaction with Facebook, from updating your profile picture, to looking at your news feed, to typing a “happy birthday” message on someone’s wall. Interestingly, it has also expanded into maintaining other social media sites, too. So, if someone asks you what you’re doing when checking your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, etc.–you can simply respond “Facebooking.” The questioner will know you are virtually occupied until further notice. 🙂
I hope you enjoyed the list! What words do YOU use, thanks to social media?
Join me all this week for Valentine’s-themed posts! I promise they’ll be more funny than sappy. 😉