Miscommunication between generations is no new thing, but in contrast to the serious matters of disagreement like house prices and whose fault it is that the planet is dying, some modern-day rifts can, perhaps, be explained by the difference in vocabulary used by each age group.
These generational differences have been made starker as the groups adopt their own online platforms of communication: each with its own trends, characteristics, and culture. Others stay off social media altogether. Perhaps the most fast paced – and typically Gen Z’s platform of choice – is Tik Tok. It generates new trends far too quickly for print media to keep up with, but I do wonder if by the time you read this we’re still all watching that boy sing about how much he loves corn – if not, I miss him.
As well as viral trends, social media spawn its own lingo which often transfers to real life. For example, I’m often reminded of the far too long a period in my life where I got into the habit of saying retweet when I agreed with something, a phase for which I would like to take this opportunity to formally apologise. As fun as it is, when I was recently googling ‘synonym for vibes’ it struck me that restricting my vocabulary to that which belongs in the TikTok comments section might have extended too far into my everyday life.
This raises a serious point; a recent report commissioned by Oxford University Press found that more than half of primary and secondary school teachers surveyed felt at least 40% of their pupils lacked the vocabulary needed to access their learning. I’m not suggesting that this decline is all down to social media, but it’s certainly the reason I read less now than when I was growing up (when social media didn’t exist).
There’s a time and a place for the vibe checks, the POVs, and the ‘no cap’, but language shouldn’t be divisive. Let’s share these generationally dependant phrases with each other, tell your mums what a pick me girl is and set your Out Of Office to brb. Nor should new language limit your overall vocabulary and hey, read a fckin book <3