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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Internet Jargon and Other Web Trends

Hello, cyberspace! It has been a long while since I last posted, but I have been out of school (graduated, actually) for over a month and have been thinking of bringing this blog back to life. While trying to come up with potentially interesting topics to write about, my brain went off on a tangent about popular terms on the Internet. I kept coming back to the word "trolling." I have been seeing and hearing this word a lot recently and have had a difficult time figuring out the official Internet definition. (But then again, a lot of things on the web these days lack a concrete definition.) Same thing with memes. Everyone knows a meme when they see it but when asked for a clear explanation people seem to struggle. 

While pondering "trolling," "meme," and other jargon, I came to the realization that in addition to jargon there are also some trending applications/websites that I am woefully ignorant of. Can you believe that before I knew what Instagram was I would always read it in my head as an exclamation ("Instagram!")? Like it was a proclamation of an artsy photo that someone took with a camera phone. Being so aware of my Interwebz (I know this is not a real word, but I could not resist) under-education, I have compiled a short list of popular terms and applications/websites that similarly Internet-illiterate people should learn. Enjoy!
  • trolling - As I briefly discussed, I was recently in the dark as to what this word meant. As I asked around on Facebook, my friend Ellyn and I discovered that the both of us knew the old school definition--"when a guy goes out looking to get laid by whoever is willing" (in the words of Ellyn), aka "Let's go trolling for bitches." However, this is not how it is used on the Internet. Urban Dictionary gives several minutely varying definitions, which were confirmed by a consensus among my friends. "Trolling" is intentionally creeping for opportunities to cause a ruckus or online disturbance using sarcastic, stupid, or loaded comments/remarks.
  • meme - Everyone knows a meme when they see it. Everyone knows how to use the classics, like Forever Alone, Derp, Y U NO, Okay Guy, et cetera. But how do you explain what a meme is to someone who has never seen one? The common definition found by any search engine is always something like "a unit of cultural information, like an image or video, that spreads and becomes popular via the Internet." This definition scratches the surface of how memes came to be, but I do not think it fully describes what a meme is. I think a meme is an image or video in which a character with an agreed upon value/function/personality is exposed to or instigates an unsatisfying, funny, bewildering, inappropriate, or embarrassing situation (depending on the character).
  • ftw - I am not sure if I was the only one, but I used to think that ftw was just the opposite or positive version of wtf ("F*ck the WHAAAAAT!"). Apparently it means "for the win." Do not judge me for my ignorance.
  • yolo - It means "You only live once." It is a also a popular hashtag on Twitter. I think it looks and sounds like a combination of "yo-yo" and "Rolo."
  • Instagram -  I kept seeing photos being posted on Facebook "via Instagram." I now know that it is not just a fancy way of saying "Ta-da! A picture!" From what I gather, Instagram is a free application for smart phones that lets you add a cool filter to any picture you take and then share it. The Instagram website says that "It's photo sharing, reinvented."  Also, Facebook recently bought it--thus, all the "artsy" photos showing up on Facebook.
  • Pinterest - My initial impression of Pinterest being like a Facebook-Tumblr hybrid was not far off. Pinterest's concise slogan hits the nail on the head: "Organize and share things you love." People use Pinterest to share their hobbies, interests, and life events. It is like the "about" section on Facebook morphed with the concept of Tumblr and became more organized, pretty, and specific.
  • Reddit - Although there are many forums and chat rooms online, Reddit is unique in that it focuses on a democratic system to organize conversation between users and communities. A community on Reddit is simply a group devoted to a certain topic, beliefs, debate, et cetera. I said it is democratic because users vote on content, deciding which discussions are more important than others. Reddit is sometimes compared to Digg.
If you are sometimes ignorant about Internet trends like me, I hope this post helped. If not, I hope you at least got a laugh out of it. 

Until next time!


  1. I have legit been wondering what the hell Reddit was for like, the past year

  2. I'm glad I wasn't the only one, Chris.