Friday, March 4, 2011

It's official: I've become a crotchety old lady.

Every generation credits itself with coming up with a popular colloquialism. My mom's generation coined "groovy," and my grandparents' generation regularly used "swell" and "neato." ...or so I'm told. But it's safe to say that just about every generation thinks it's come up with the cool colloquialism or schoolyard game du jour.

Remember the game M.A.S.H.? I remember my middle school classmates and I thinking we were the bee's knees for coming up with such a clever game. Then my sister burst my bubble by telling me she'd learned it from an upperclassman when she was in middle school. (Other "games" each generation thinks it's so clever for creating: the pen15 club, the Game, and the macarena)

I chuckle to myself thinking of the generation that thought it had created the hot new game "Ring Around the Rosy."

But like Ring Around the Rosy, I'm sure today's generations don't know where the phrases and time killers they enjoy today came from.

Case in point: I'm pretty sure mine and my sister's generation came up with what teachers and parents today call "text talk." After college, I was cleaning out my childhood bedroom and I found a shoebox filled with the notes my friends and I passed to each other in 7th and 8th grade. After I got over laughing my initial observation of how ridiculously dramatic we were about boys that NONE of us still talk to (and NONE of us are married to, despite what we were wholly convinced of at the ripe old age of TWELVE), I was nerdtastically fascinated by the 2, 3, and 4 letter anagrams that speckled the page.

"Hi (insert nickname here)!!!!!! What are you doing? NMH. I am soo bored in math class."

Then with the advent of AOL IM, phrases like LOL and ROFL became common knowledge.

I have a distinct memory of a high school classmate writing a little note on the dry erase board and ending it with a "LOL" and a smiley face. One of the more snarky male classmates of mine brashly called out, "You loser! You don't write LOL, that's just for IMs!" Even though I was just a witness to it, this display of public humiliation has shaped my opinion on the matter of text talk ever since. So much so that I don't even use the anagrams, even when I am on an appropriate medium (read: facebook, text messages, and BBMs).

That rule, obviously has not carried over to the present generation. The present generation that thinks the ancient teacher standing at the front of the room has NO idea what it means when they carve "STFU" into their desk top. They think they've come up with these anagrams, as well as the rules for using them.

What's stuck me since moving to Saudi Arabia is the rampant use of emoticons on something other than a computer screen. I actually had one of my students write ":S" on the rough draft of her script as opposed to the actual WORDS that should go into stage directions.

While sometimes the :S does say it better than words, what I found so funny was the fact that she wrote it sideways. On her paper. With her hand. Why turn the smiley face sideways when you're writing on paper?

No human being turns her head at a 90 degree angle and makes any sort of expression. We're not dogs trying to decode a shrill sound. We only write emoticons sideways because there's no other option when typing on a computer screen...unless you're G-chatting, and then it'll turn the face right-side-up for you!

As I was laughing at the absurdity of it all, I realized that my students have always lived in a world with emoticons. They actually say "LOL" instead of breaking it down to it's real words. They don't know that "blog" is actually a clipped word that comes from "web log." They think "blog" is a real word.

And then it hit me: I've become the crotchety old lady that is sooo unhip and behind the times.

Man, getting old is rough.

Vicariously yours,


  1. Hey amber. what up? NMH. NEways. Stay Sweet. LYLAS. KIT. GLTS.