The other day I was reading a Reddit post that posed the question: what societal norm has done a complete 180-degree turn from what it was 10 years ago? The top voted comment was about texting, how in 2007 people preferred being called rather than being left a text message. Today, calls are seen as intrusive. Texts that can be answered on the recipient’s time are the norm.
Firstly, I’m as shocked as you are to think that 10 years ago was 2007 and not the mid 90’s. Don’t be fooled; we millennials are well into the new millennium. After all, Facebook was launched closer to the dissolution of the Soviet Union than to today.
Now that we’ve settled into our increasingly technology-saturated lifestyles, new social mores have emerged, which are normalized, but ridiculous when you stop to think about them:
“Call me”: The once affectionate check-in text from your friend now has ominous overtones that make your stomach drop. Are they mad at me? Did something happen? Are they in the hospital? Probably, if you’re receiving a text as deadly serious as “Call me.”
“Haha”: This person clearly didn’t think what you said was funny, otherwise they would have given it three ha’s. Clearly, the length of the string of “ha’s” indicates the hilarity of the previous comment. Plain old “Haha” is so standard nowadays that it has become the equivalent of a concurring grunt during conversation. If they didn’t even have the courtesy to tack a “ba” or “mua” to front of it, capitalize it, throw in some “ja’s” or even mix it up with some “hehe’s,” then they weren’t really laughing. Honestly if you receive “Haha,” it’s probably best to just start apologizing for what you said. More rarely, if you’re receiving “huehuehueh” then the person must be deriving some sort of sick sadistic humor from your message.
“Lol”: What used to symbolize someone laughing out loud has been reduced to something meaning “I just exhaled louder than normal.”
Seriously, our world has changed; our vocabulary has expanded. Gifs and stickers, emojis and bitmojis can communicate paragraphs of feelings and emotions with a simple click.
It’s a bit ridiculous to feel affronted by a block of capitalized text, but seriously, do they have to shout? I’m not ready to respond, should I avoid opening a Facebook message to prevent them from seeing my read receipt? Am I a jerk if I don’t like their Instagram picture right after they liked mine? Is this carefully placed winky face funny and playful or sexually suggestive? If I add a period after this message, do I come off as too serious? One question mark means I’m generally interested; two question marks means I’m anxious about the answer, right??
I’ll just let this Snapchat sit for a bit so it doesn’t look like I’m too desperate. No, I don’t literally “like” the Facebook status that your grandmother passed away. People no longer complain about their voicemail being full. They ask, “What’s voicemail?”
The emerging social media language has a learning curve of its own, and it’s changing all the time. Call it intangible, subtle, nebulous – it’s still real, and its prevalence in our lives necessitates its examination under the comedic lens, because it really does get ridiculous at times. Still can’t identify with these? You’re either way cooler and more hip than me, or a Motorola Razr, Myspace, Yahoo-email using anachronism. ;).