We’re always trying to improve our communication skills. They are important not only for making friends and looking good at parties but for professional success as well. In the world of the Internet, communication takes on a new meaning. Messages are getting briefer and clearer than ever.
What we don’t always understand, however, is how some of these trends originate. Someone uses the word with a new meaning, and everyone starts to catch on. Before you know it, the word goes viral.
Social media users seem to have an intuitive understanding of these words. Just like when we’re learning a new language, it’s important to pay attention to these pop culture trends. Let’s check out a few ordinary words that take on a new meaning thanks to social media.
Who remembers the trolls from cartoons? These were supernatural creatures that were either cute or frightening. They smelled terrible.
I used to have dozens of troll dolls when I was a kid.
Now, the troll is a real person behind the screen. Their only intention is to irritate other people through provocative comments. The only similarity with the trolls from cartoons is that, probably, these people smell bad, too!
Don’t answer this weirdo’s comments. He’s a troll!
Not so long ago, a bump was something that appeared on your forehead after you hit the wall. Bumping into each other meant meeting unexpectedly.
I’m so glad I bumped into you.
Now, bumping means moving a post on the top of the news feed by adding a new comment. In Facebook groups, you’re seeing the posts that are currently active. If you want to activate a post that somewhere lower in the page, you can do that with a comment. Guess what that comment usually is? Bump!
I’ll bump this post, so people can see it.
The word profile meant a thorough description of someone’s character or a photo or picture of the side of one’s face.
This criminal’s profile is too confusing. They’ll never solve this murder.
Now, a profile is something you have on social media. It’s an account that includes your personal details, photos, posts, likes, and statistics about your entire activity there.
I checked her Facebook profile. She seemed like a nice girl.
The only meaning behind a pin used to be something similar to a needle.
Try this jacket on but be careful, it still has pins in it.
Today, the word pin has another word: an image you attach on a Pinterest board. Pinning is an addictive habit. We keep collecting one pin after another, and we never look at them again. People are weird, aren’t they?
I better pin as many recipes as I can today. That’s the only way to learn how to cook.
Viral used to be an adjective for a condition caused by a virus.
I’ve got a viral infection. I’m too cold and tired to go out right now.
Now, the word viral has a positive meaning. It’s something that gets so popular around social media that it spreads like a virus. It’s usually a photo, video, or post that circulates all over the Internet with the speed of light. On an average, it’s not something that makes you smarter.
That video of Jennifer Lawrence falling over is still going viral.
This was something you gave to a boy or girl you liked. You gave them that brief, quick look because you were afraid they could tell you liked them.
I just glanced at her face and turned away. I bet he’ll call now.
Now, we’re glancing through websites. When you see a long article you don’t want to read, you’re still scrolling through the page, glancing through headings and images.
This post is stupid. I knew it from a single glance.
Birds have been tweeting since forever. Their tweets make spring our favorite time of the year.
Do you hear the birds tweeting? Spring is here!
With the rise of Twitter, people started tweeting, too. Now, a tweet means a short update on this social network. It’s consisted of 140 characters and you’re usually trying too hard to be funny with it.
Everyone will retweet this tweet cos it’s funny.
While we’re at it, retweeting means sharing someone else’s tweet.
We all used to fail on exams, right? Failing is part of being a student.
Now, a fail is something much more embarrassing. It’s making a silly comment or a typo on social media, and other people use that weakness to ridicule you.
You used you’re instead of your, dude. Such a fail.
You used to create timelines in your schedule, so you’d organize an important event in all details. You also created timelines when studying history, so it was easier for you to memorize the dates and events.
Now you create your own timeline on social media. The timeline is a collection of all your updates in a reverse chronological order (latest first).
Checking in was something related to hotel receptions. Your parents also checked in on you, just to see where you were.
Now, the term has a new meaning: it means letting everyone know where you through a social media update.
This restaurant is soooo fancy and expensive! I just have to check in, so everyone will be jealous of me.
The word status was related to people’s social standing. You know, aristocrats and plain people had a different social status. They still have.
You can’t marry that peasant with no status! I forbid it!
Now, the old meaning of the word stands, but it means something else, too: an update you post on Facebook. It’s usually a plain text message, but it may also be accompanied with a photo.
I’m just calling to check in. I read the Facebook status about your dog. I’m so sad to hear that.
When you’re passionate about learning a language, you need to explore all its forms. Social media changed the way we communicate, but it also transformed the language we use. I listed only few of the many words that have a different meaning thanks to online communication. Can you add more words to that list?
Diana Clark is an online tutor and experienced high school educator with 5 years of successful working experience in language teaching. She is covering different topics concerning the online education, educational technology and provides assignment help for eLearners. Feel free to contact her at Twitter.