The use of language feels like a constant revolving door; the minute you begin to understand a new word, the next, it is no longer ‘cool,’ and you just feel like you’re walking in circles. I don’t ever feel like they understand the relevant language that social media influencers are using. It feels like it was just yesterday when we started saying “OMG” and “LOL” in texting, which then evolved into a real word and was introduced into daily conversations – so maybe I’ll get there one day with the words we use now.
The evolution of language has affected every single word that we use. Language is getting more casual as slang is introduced into our daily conversations.
Looking back at the history of post-colonization in Canada, I think about the formality of language, addressing people by formal titles, and using literary language in daily conversation to signify class. Old-English is vastly different from how we speak now, largely due to mass media platforms’ impact. Even broadcast media and newspapers allowed society during the twentieth century to experience various forms of language and notice how wording can vary depending on the situation. However, with social media, it is not just the news reporters or TV channels deciding what gets shared – it’s anyone and anything. Social media is about connecting with others around the world with no boundaries or limitations. This phenomenon allows for language and concepts to be shared so quickly that people learn from one another. Slang is transmitted through the spread of culture, which is the essence of social media in general.
The spread of language evolution isn’t an issue, as it is a natural part of developing as a society. Rather slang is becoming prevalent with young people and limiting their development into adulthood. Young people’s need for their phones and devices has created dependency ties to hiding behind a screen. Not only has social media and the scope of media changed the way that information gets delivered, but it also changes the way that people use words to communicate.
Social media has created an entirely new realm of jobs – in what we now deem influencers or public figures. But, what even is an influencer? Again, this is a more recent term introduced into society when Paris Hilton took the first selfie back in 2006. According to Urban Dictionary, an influencer is “a word Instagram users use to describe themselves to make them feel famous and more important when no one really knows who they are or care, usually the type of people that call themselves foodies and post pictures of their avocado and toast cause they can’t really do anything else interesting, usually also post their last holiday asking someone to #takemeback.”
We often see influencers using terms as part of a meme or in their general language, and then everyone begins to use this as a common word. For example, ten years ago, the word vlog had completely different usage and meaning. However, society has evolved alongside the media to use it commonly.
It is important to note that those most affected by influencer culture are often some of the youngest viewers. Children are very impressionable, and most apps do not have restrictions available to limit what children see. This is a large factor in how language is transmitted so quickly, especially to younger generations. When young people see someone they look up to using a slang word, they often want to emulate their idol – including the language they use, despite not fully understanding its meaning. This creates a disconnect in language between generations, as well as peers due to mistranslations and miscommunications. Using an abundance of slang also limits young people’s vocabulary development as their inundated exposure to social media will cause difficulties in understanding the difference between slang and everyday language.
Social media is a fantastic tool that has benefited people worldwide in so many ways – too many to list here! But such devices, alongside influencers, have also become a detriment in children’s development through the widespread usage of slang words. By breaking the boundaries of what words mean, we have entered a new era of language.
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