Adopting Internet Slang

I speak two languages: English and internet. And by internet, I don’t mean binary code or HTML/CSS, I mean internet speak. All the terms and slang that has developed and is used all over. “Fleek”, “finna”, “wig”, “BDE”, “had to do it to ’em”…the list goes on and on. The terms are used usually for comedic effect because there is an understanding that most of these words aren’t professional and sophisticated. So we use them in a funny Twitter reply or in a roast or something. Comprehending these new words and phrases isn’t hard, but I can see how someone not as well read online can have no clue what they mean. Even I have to occasionally pull up Urban Dictionary to make sure I’m on the same page.

Like a meme, (heck, some of the slang basically is a meme itself), it can be hard to figure out where the slang came from. Who was the first person to say “mans” and how did so many people take to it? I think it’s impressive. It’s been said that a lot of internet slang and terms (and some real life slang) come from black culture, which I believe. But whether that’s always the case or not, they eventually get spread around so far so fast and used by everyone and anyone. Even me.

street slang gif.

The thing about my use, though, is that I didn’t choose to. I didn’t one day say “I will now begin using ‘stan’.” I just saw it over and over and over online that it seeped into my personal vocabulary, so now, when I’m at curling and someone makes a really good shot, my first thought is “wow, we stan” which is SO DUMB and I know this, but I can’t seem to stop. I don’t say it out loud, but maybe that’s only because most of the curlers playing with me are my parents’ age and I guarantee none of them would have clue what it’d mean. I guess I do it for my own inner comedic dialogue in a sport where there’s not a lot of time for outer conversation.

Anyway, I’ve noticed that any goofy internet slang I do use in my mind or online started ironically. I knew it was goofy and used it mockingly because it was a silly thing to say in life and I wanted a quick chuckle. I just don’t know where or when or how it became not ironic. And this isn’t just exclusive to slang or new words like ‘yeet’. I find myself also saying regular things slightly differently in loose reference to other things online. Like how John Mulaney says “okay” in that one Delta Airlines bit but says it like “OW-KAAAAY!” Or when the guy in the freezable fruit shapes Vine says in a very clear tone “I do not.” Yeah, I do that. I sometimes feel like my whole personality is lowkey based on things other people said on the internet.

who have I become gif.

The good news is, I’m apparently not alone. I found this old video from YouTuber Tiffany Ferg, and it’s nice to know that someone as educated and eloquent as her also does it too (side note: her Internet Analysis videos are always really well done and interesting).

I just think it’s interesting to think about the weird words we use and how they got into our vocabulary, either online or in real life. I think it’s cool that the internet has connected us so much that these random and fun new words and phrases can become so important and interesting. Of course, that’s not to say I am adopting or even a fan of all the words. I strongly dislike a lot of internet slang, including but not limited to:

  • bae
  • lil
  • mans
  • finna
  • thot
  • litty
  • smol
  • issa

What online-based words have you found yourself using or do you hate slang trends?


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