With the dawn of the Internet age, the world has been changing rapidly. Everything has been affected, even our language. Like it or not, ideas spread like wildfire and so does change. We see these changes most noticeably in language and the vernacular used on a day-to-day basis.
Though some may say that the English language is being ruined by this constant onslaught of slang, it’s important to note that every single generation has had its own slang. Phrases such as “the real McCoy” or “the bees knees” from the 1920s are classic examples of slang that became so widespread that they are still used, though mainly sarcastically, almost 100 years later. The word “cool” came to mean “fashionable” in the 1940s and is still in use today, non-sarcastically. These are only a few of the phrases that were considered transient in the time they came into popularity but have in fact endured into the 21st century.
One argument that many people have about the millennial generation’s slang is that there is so much of it. It could be that, thanks to the Internet, we have so many new phrases that we can’t seem to keep phrases in use long enough to give them the longevity of phrases like “cool.” I would argue that “LOL” is this generation’s “cool” and that it will at some point become one of those words about which almost none remember a time without it. We also have the cringe-worthy phrases, just like every other generation. Even now, looking back at pictures from 2012 you will see lots of pictures with “yolo” and “swag” on them. These words have already passed on into their “sarcastic use” stage.
`The Internet allows for people all over the world to see the same thing at the very same time and to share what they’re seeing onto multiple platforms. A popular way to spread thoughts and ideas is through humor, more specifically through memes. Somehow, every week there seems to be a new one that spreads through just about every social media platform within hours.
There is nothing wrong with our language changing, but if we don’t like the way it’s changing, we can’t just tell people to stop making up stupid words; we’ll have to introduce things that we think are better. In the same way that we do not speak and write in 16th century English, the English language will eventually transition into its next phrase. However, that doesn’t mean that these changes will make it a better or worse language for the changes; it will simply be different. Older generations will always in some way look at younger generations and question the logic behind the changes being made, but sometimes there is no logic—it’s just a natural change.