Our words, our world

Are you under 30? yup. Do you use social media? tick. Do you have friends? yes, bless them all.  

Nice, one more question.

What do you think about youth slang (e.g. lol, fml, lmao)? I wouldn’t use slang in a job interview but otherwise I’m cool with it. 

Same! Looks like we’re surfing the same wave length. Like most individuals, I use slang to connect with my friends (and people I want to be friends with). Our mutual understanding of abbreviated terms and obscure phrases reminds us that we’re the same – we’re young.

This study shows that speaking slang is similar to being bilingual when it comes to positive effects on memory. Which leads me to think: slang is not a ‘lazy’ form of English. As much as it is used to include and connect its users, those who cannot keep up with the constant changes in the language get left behind. It takes effort to stay in the know.

TLDR; slang helps us connect with people and boosts our brain power.

Let me ask you another question.

Do you use kms / fml / rip / ded in conversations? Or have you ever conveyed a neutral situation in a negative way?  Probably…

Yes, I do as well. Everyone who is equipped with youth slang has an enormous toolkit of negative words which they use to build negative conversations. Surprise!

That was meant to be sarcastic – except I was surprised when I reflected on my language use and discovered how much I was complaining and being pessimistic, when I didn’t necessarily feel that way. For example: “fml I have uni tmr”. But I love uni! I’m grateful that I get to go and learn interesting things about the world, and I’m happy to have opportunities to meet new people.

This linguistics theory, called The Sapir Whorf Hypothesis, suggests that the language you speak shapes the way you see the world, the way you think, and the way you behave. What if the language we use in our online conversations change our perspective of life, our real world behaviour and relationships for the worse?

I see the benefits of youth slang, but I also think a large part of it promotes a harmful culture. That’s why we should keep the good parts, the language that facilitates solidarity, and cleanse our system of the negatives. Here’s how:

  1. Think before you type. Is the situation negative or am I making it negative?
  2. Replace negative slang with positive slang. E.g. “fml yas I have work tmr”
  3. Make new words with your friends. Bonus points if they derive from typos.
  4. Just don’t use negative slang. Fullstop.

Change our words, change our world.