I Don't Speak The Language: Teens And Social Media

May 3, 2016



Teens and social media


The other day my husband was texting with my daughter when he asked me a question.

"What does i-g-h-t stand for?"

I couldn't picture the letters in my head so I walked over to him to see them in black and white. He was busy trying to figure it out on his own.

"I got her...something, I grabbed hot...tea, I'm going here tonight..." 

He couldn't crack the code.

But I could. I had never seen the word in text before, but the kids said it all the time.

"It's not an acronym. It's just ight. It's short for alright. Did you you ask her a question?"

"Yes. I asked her how her day was going."

"Yup, that's it then. She answered. Ight. Alright."

He just looked at me with a perplexed kind of smile and shook his head.

Clearly, he did not speak the language.

I can't blame the guy. It all moves so fast. The days of lol and omg are long gone. Even as a mom, the one who is privy to all the conversations with friends, during carpools and homework sessions, I'm still lost most of the time.

The acronyms are longer and more detailed, some applied to very specific situations. Entirely new words are created that seemingly have no apparent connection to what they mean. Terms are coined and then gone within a month and the phrase that kid in math class made up today, is now a global phenomenon thanks to YouTubers and Viners ~ and if they can't come up with anything original, they recycle something old.

Lately, I'll be correcting my kids for using a word improperly, only to be told that the dictionary meaning of that word no longer applies.

"That's not what it means."

"Yes it is. Look it up."

"Well, that's not how it's used now. And you should stop saying it."

"What does it mean now?"

Sometimes they come right out and tell me.

Sometimes they just give me a look.

On those occasions, I know that it's probably best for everyone involved if I Google it on my own.
I shudder at some of what I have found. Urban Dictionary is a scary place.

Oh boy.

Of course, there are times when I try to use the lingo. This rarely goes over well.

"Don't say that."

"Why not? Isn't that what it means? Didn't I use it correctly?"

"Yes. But it doesn't sound right when you say it. It's weird. Stop it."

That's the point where I usually tell them that it's weird to text without proper punctuation. That sentences begin with capitals and end with periods. If you pause, you should use a comma and if you're excited you can add an exclamation point without being told that you're screaming at someone.

Then they inform me that employing traditional grammar rules is rude.

"Mom, don't write that! Periods mean you're mad. It sounds angry."

"Ma, you can't use a capital, you're yelling."

"I'm not yelling. It denotes the beginning of a sentence."

"No mom, it's rude."

You know what's rude? Run on sentences and lower case letters. As a former Kindergarten teacher, the first lesson we taught our emerging writers was that all sentences start with capital and end with a period. Um...it's the standard and is based on rules that were established centuries ago, regardless of what this iPhone obsessed generation believes.

Growing up my mother was the queen of the English language. She constantly corrected my essays and my speech. She used to quote her high school English teacher, Miss Shaunessy. My friends used to laugh at me because I said aunt (or worse auntie) instead of ant, but that's what my mother was taught. It was, in fact, the proper pronunciation and that was how we were conditioned to say it.

If we didn't, the reprimand was swift.

"Miss Shaunessy would not like that word. An ant is a bug on the ground! Is my sister a bug? No, she is not. She is your aunt."

By the way, when my mom said that, she was often yelling. It was clear to us because she raised her voice, not because she was capitalizing.

I know it's confusing.

There are the rare occasions when I actually do know what's going on. I am not that old and I am on social media all day for work, but even then I can't always catch a break.

"What are those pictures for?" I ask this as my daughter is taking selfies in the front seat. Apparently, lighting in the car is optimal. Everyone looks better in the car.

Well, everyone except me. In my late forties, even in the car I look ridiculous in selfies.

"I'm sending them to Laura."

"Snapshot?"

"Snapchat! Mom, it's Snapchat or it's a screenshot. You can't combine them. They are totally different things!! You take a screenshot and you send a Snapchat. I can't talk to you, if you can't remember."

I know this. I do, but I am at an age where words escape me on a daily basis and I call the kids by the goldfish's name. Snapchat, screenshot, texting, DMing, Vsco, Instagram, Periscope, Tumblr. Tweeting, posting, liking, blocking, hashtags, unfollowing, Finstas and two words that make me cringe every time I hear them, sexting and nudes.

It's enough to send me over the edge.

It makes me nostalgic for my own teenage years when we spoke in (relatively) plain English, the only social media platform was the local newspaper and unless you were going to take out an ad in the classifieds to buy or sell your car, there was no need for abbreviations!

When I explain this to my kids they roll their eyes and laugh. I know they think I'm ancient and out of touch.

And maybe I am.

I don't think there's anything wrong with the language I speak.

I respect the dictionary. I like punctuation.

I'm kind of a grammar nerd and I don't mind spelling out an entire word.

Even if it takes me a little bit longer to send my text.

Imagine that.

Oh gosh, I'm sorry, was I yelling?



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87 comments:

  1. Too funny, Kim. Been there, not a fan of Snapchat and will always use correct punctuation!

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    1. Glad to hear that I am not alone, Cecilia! :)

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  2. I was laughing as I read this but even as the post is humorous the situation really isn't funny. I think that it is sad. The only thing that I remember hearing is that typing in all caps is yelling. Not using capital letters and punctuation I always attributed to laziness but now I worry that some of those kids really can't put together a sentence correctly. I spent most of my adult life writing in phrases rather than complete sentences at work and not using those writing skills on a regular basis can allow them to get rusty. I am with you though on wanting to do it correctly.

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    1. It really isn't funny, Lorri. You are so right. I have to say that my own kids have had some excellent teachers and so far, they are communicating properly in their other written work. However, like you said, once they are out of school and not writing long form essays on a regular basis, I don't know what will happen to those skills when they are chatting in 140 characters or less. Scary.

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  3. Fellow grammar nerd here too...and proud of it. ;)

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    1. I think we’re in good company, Kristi! :)

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  4. Oh good Lord! I still haven't really gotten a firm grasp on what hash tags are and I do not Twitter, face time, Facebook, Instagram or.....what is the thing they do with ten second pictures? I don't even have a smart phone (although my current phone is smarter than my previous dumber than a rock phone).

    I don't know whether to be amused or scared for the future of our country when I hear a young person telling, not texting, another youngperson that they
    "....LOLed at what she said.....".

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    1. Right there with you, Kim. Although, I think I am more scared than amused...but that could just be the teacher in me talking! :)

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  5. Love it! My son who is still in high school says the same things to me all the time. The 2 kids in college are a little more understanding! haha (not allowed to lol anymore) :)

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    1. Haha! I know, Jen. Apparently, I am a total embarrassment, too! ;-)

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  6. Oh my . . . wonderful post Kim . . .
    I remember a few years back . . . asking a friend what LOL meant . . .
    I clearly thought it was Lots of Love
    instead of Laugh Out Loud . . .
    (She LOL at me!)
    I decided then that I would probably always be a . . .
    Caps and Periods gal . . . (Best ever English teacher . . .)
    Although . . . I have taken to writing my posts in all lower case . . .
    (It is an "arty" thing for me . . .)
    (and I doubt I will ever, ever stop using my . . . )
    (Those . . . are never ...) (Just sayin' . . .)
    A bit confusing but I think you'll "get It!"

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    1. The funniest LOL story I've heard.......My friend's mother-in-law thought it meant 'lots of love'. Someone had posted about a death on Facebook & she commented with LOL.

      So funny but give me enough years & I'll probably be doing the same thing.

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    2. Oh my gosh, Jenny! That is horrifying and hysterical at the same time!

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    3. I take some liberties with my grammar and punctuation in the name of my blog art, as well, Lynne. I was always taught that starting sentence with but or and was a no no, but I do it now as part of my conversational tone. I write the way I speak. It's just more fun that way, so yes...I get it!! ;)

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  7. I'm so glad I'm not alone in being "ancient" and not knowing how to speak the language. My kids constantly tell me "Mom, just stop" and that my texts are too long because I actually have the nerve to spell things correctly, punctuate and (oh, the horror) use capital letters. And honestly, even if I'm not yelling maybe they could use a little yelling since they should use punctuation and know how to spell. Someday they'll need to! Yup, my age is showing. :)

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    1. Here, here!! They will need to communicate properly at some point...and you never get a second chance to make a first impression. The written word speaks volumes in more ways than the obvious.

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  8. Oh my Kim, I can totally relate to this!My kids nowadays use words that I need code book to decipher!! And I am considered "weird" if I fail to comprehend, especially the younger one! Nice post! Hugs, Poppy

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    1. I think our parents had it much easier, Poppy! No one had to look up the word awesome or MTV. Pretty self explanatory! ;)

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  9. Now I'm really shuddering over the post I have up today. From one nerd to another, just look the other way.

    Now, as your kids get a little older the language will pass them by too! My 24 year old son is still in college and he's frequently talking about the things the 18 year olds say. :)

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    1. Stacey, I loved your post today and totally got it! Your writing left me breathless, as I am sure were, after you completed your tasks! Perfect! ;)

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  10. Dear Kim ... oh my, such an interesting post. I think I must be very old fashioned and have old fashioned ways ... no, I know that I am. I felt so proud when I was able to figure out how to make a ♥ to use on my blog. HE!HE! I am a simple gal and it doesn't take much to make me happy. I hope that your day is filled with sweet pleasures and simple blessings. Hugs "♥" Teri

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    1. I am all for the simple life, Teri. You have the right idea! Too much social media surrounds us and frankly I think most of it is unnecessary! :)

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  11. You are not alone! ha ha! I always write out complete sentences etc when I text! It's crazy isn't it?

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    1. I guess old habits are hard to break!! :)

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  12. This is hilarious!

    I would be even more lost than you. At 50 my nest is empty & my son has been married over 2 yrs. Add to that the fact that I still don't even own a cell phone. When someone asks me to take a picture with their phone I have to ask them how to turn it on.

    With one child, I still went through all the dog names before I finally found his in my brain. We're long past the ridicule stage with him though. He's only 23 but being a married working man he's been left behind as well.......not as far as me though! ;)

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    1. Jenny, when I was young, there were four of us and lots of animals. I used to tease my mom about mixing up our names all the time. It’s funny how history repeats itself in relatively short order…and like you, my list of name is considerable shorter! I guess the joke is on me! ;)

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  13. Hilarious post Kim! I loved the part about how to say "aunt"... when I moved to the south, I was corrected many times for saying aunt instead of "ant". Finally, I gave in, and now I say ant... ugh! And the whole texting and making up words, and all that. oh my.... such a crazy world we live in now - really! Good luck with the new language being created around us, I don't get it either!

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    1. I have taught my children to say aunt and they constantly take heat, too. I still say aunt after all these years, but I don't think I could ever say "ight"! ;)

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  14. I am so with you and I am also about 10 years older so can you imagine how bad I am at all this with my 17 year old? I remember not wanting to have a phone to text because I did not know all the abbreviations. Well, now I am texting, mostly with people my own age, and no one abbreviates. Except my 30 something daughters, sometimes. It is all too confusing sometimes and I have never heard of half of the social media you mentioned!!!

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    1. AnnMarie, if I didn't have to be informed, because my kids are using these platforms, I would be happier to live in my technology-less cave! Hopefully, this is a fad that will burn out and proper English will return. Although, I doubt it. Boo.

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  15. My boys laugh at my lack of social media knowledge too. It's confusing, for sure. I can't help but use the correct punctuation in my texts. It just makes it easier to understand the "tone" of the message. My mom on the other hand, uses Siri to send her texts. Her texts never have any punctuation and they're one long run on sentence. I hardly ever understand what she's trying to say. :) I still use "lol" and it drives my kids crazy. The other day, I replied to my son's text with "That's totes cray cray!" I think he wanted to crawl into the floor and hide from shame. Hee!

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    1. I am so glad to hear that I am not alone, Lisa! I sometimes use talk to text and it’s always a mess. I usually have to send several follow up texts to clarify what I meant and it just turns into more work than it was worth. :)

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  16. Yes, Kim it is crazy with the texting and trying to figure out what they are saying to us sometimes. The funny thing is my teen hates when I abbreviate words or when I use smiley faces. Go figure. I also hate the auto correct when you are trying to type out something too. I loved this post today though. Lol. :)

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    1. I hear you, Julie!! They do not want me speaking their language at all!! 😉

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  17. Whoa, Kim!! I love my kids and my grandkid, but so glad that I don't have them around me all the time anymore!!. Just sitting at the dinner table with grandson and I don't know how he manages to eat his food. His plate is empty but I have not seen his hands come out from under the table!! I have a phone that I pay way too much for, because of the urging of my tekkie SIL, that I never use! I signed up for facebook at my daughter's urging and can't stand to use it, my grandson says anyone over the age of 30 should not be able to use it anyway. Have texting on my phone but couldn't tell you how to use it. BUT, the minute I saw the word, "ight" I just knew that it meant all right!. Must be from all the TV I watch!!.Happy Week to you..Judy

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    1. Yes, I understand the phone at the table, Judy. It’s like they can’t miss a thing!! We always say, no phones, but some "emergency” always comes up and there it is again. Oh well, I guess it’s just a sign of the times!

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  18. This is an excellent article, but it's scary to me, too. I'm glad I'm past the teen stage (my son is 25), but I have teenage nieces. I am such a stickler for correct grammar. I shudder to think how these kids are writing papers at school. And don't even get me started with the horrors of teens and social media, with the bullying, sexting and nude photos! It's a very scary world out there. I suppose one thing parents of teens can do is to let them know that they will be checking their phones periodically to see what apps they have on it and what they're sending. If the parent is paying the phone bill, they have every right to check the phone.

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    1. Melanie, I can tell you that most parents do not check their kids phones and I know this because I do...and then I can see what every other kid is posting and it is scary. When my kids started with social media, I told them they had to check with me before they posted. Unbelievably, all these years later, they still do, not necessarily for permission, but for an opinion. Sometimes, we are not on the same page and with kids that are almost adults that is to be expected and even ok, but I love that they involve me in the process. I also follow them on all social media. I don't understand parents who tell me that their kids won't allow that. What??? Yikes.

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  19. So true. I can't keep up with the changes. Grandson cuts me some slack. He says I can't remember what he tells me. Funny thing, it's true.

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    1. I can’t remember either, Barbara…so many letters and so many possible meanings! I was happier with my answering machine! Ha!

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  20. My daughter is 4. I am shuddering at what you have shared- even though it is completely hilarious.

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    1. Maybe by the time she is 14 things will have straightened themselves out, Ronda. Or they will be communicating with friend telepathically by then and you won't have to worry about it either way!! 😉

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  21. I agree with all the above! But a conversation in 140 characters?? Not happening in my book without some careful wordsmithing! (Is that a word?)
    The scary thing is that the demise of a language is frequently precipitated by the bastardization of grammar and spelling. (Okay, I read that somewhere decades ago, but I'd be willing to bet it's even more accurate today!)
    My phone is smarter than the old one, but not as smart as the new ones. I like it that way. Auto correct doesn't mess up my sentences for me - I do a bang up job of that myself! btw, the proper excuse for incorrect words should be SAC - silly/stupid/ auto correct. I made it up, but it doesn't seem to be catching on. ;-)

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    1. Nancy, I think I am going to start using SAC...describes how I feel perfectly!! See, it just caught on with me!! 😉

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  22. ohmygosh.
    i suppose i would be amish if they had indoor plumbing.
    i'm so far behind in the tech world and the modern ways of slang... for in a sense that's what it is. each generation seems to have their own. only these days it's like another language altogether! as you can see... i hate commas and capital letters.
    i once asked a teacher why couldn't i write this way? that i thought i was in very good company with one of my favorite poets e.e. cummings! she didn't find it amusing.
    oddly enough i always excelled in english and grammar on tests of the same.
    but now i'm not only grown up... i'm OLD!
    and i can and do as well as i darned please! LOLOL.
    that's both lots of love and laugh out loud. :) XO♥ great post by the way. as always!

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    1. One of the wonderful benefits of age, is embracing nonconformity! You wear it well my friend!! ❤️

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  23. This was a good one, lol! I often would go to Urban Dictionary to try to figure out something that my youngest said on Facebook in the past.
    To this day I still have a hard time not saying Thongs and having to say Flip Flops instead :)

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    1. Oh my gosh, Deb, yes!!! We always said thongs for flip flops!!

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  24. Hi Kim, this was a great one!! I'm right with you. Some I get, but most NOT. haha! Maybe someone will come up with a new dictionary just for these codes!!

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    1. Sometimes, Celestina, I sit and try to figure it out, but more often than not, I just answer my kids with a question mark! So I think a dictionary would be fabulous!!

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  25. I have always stressed grammar. I also don't like that I have to type to leave a message. Oh well. The world is changing without me sometimes. xoxo Su

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    1. I feel the same way, Su! xoxo

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  26. I don't understand half of this stuff but I don't have teenagers. My daughter (twenty-five)is a high school English teacher and she sends brief texts. I may be going against the grain here but she is super busy. She abbreviates her texts and often doesn't use correct spelling or grammar. Yet she has proofread my newspaper articles and can always answer my grammatical questions. Yes, she knows. But texting may also be somewhat similar to the old days when people used the telegraph and messages were short and stunted.

    I'd like to see studies on whether or not texting and abbreviating is hampering learning correct grammar. in our scholar kids. Or is it simply a new way for the younger generation to communicate with 10,000 people! lol!

    What are your thoughts on this aspect, Kim? Am I way off? :-D

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    1. I don’t think you’re way off, Jane. My kids write properly when composing high school essays and when they write thank you notes or other formal pieces. I do think it’s just their slang to chat with friends…and yes, when you are communicating with 10,000 people at a time you had better be good at shorthand!! ;-)

      The one thing that does bother me though, is the misuse of the the words your/ you’re. They lose the apostrophe when abbreviating and sometimes I do see that one carry over. Thank goodness for that scene from “Friends” when Ross gives Rachel a hard time about confusing them. I think it’s the only thing that keeps them all straight when it counts!! Haha.

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    2. That drives me up the wall too, but now it's just "ur," which is even worse. What's worse is the texting abbreviations are appearing everywhere, not just as texts. I'm afraid the English language will disappear!

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  27. Kim,
    This is so true. You crack me up because my oldest has said the same thing to me. I'm like really and they are like SMH (shake my head). LOL, I go online to see what these made up words means.

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    1. Forget Dr. Spock…thank goodness for Google!! :)

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  28. If you are afloat in a sea of confusion, just imagine how this older Baby Boomer feels! My daughter shared with me the other day, that she overheard one of the twins telling her friends to tone down their IG messages to her because her Nana looks at her IG. I just try not to look at the comments or the photos sometimes...very scary! I am so very thankful that I'm not the one raising anyone under the age of 30! My hat is off to all of you who have this responsibility.

    I've been meaning to tell you how cute your profile photo is. You must have secrets for looking that cute while raising teens! Heehee! Hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day, Kim!

    Warm hugs,
    Carol

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    1. Carol, I totally agree with your Instagram comment! I follow my kids and the comments ARE downright scary. I try not to look...or sometimes when I see the offending commenter in person I call them out. My kids love that! (Not so much!) And thank you for the kind words about my picture. I am not a camera fan so I have been hiding behind my tulips but after three years I decided to "go public"! :)

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  29. Great post Kim ...
    I'm a techno dinosaur and with so much modern stuff it's a wonder I get by - but I do!

    The wonders of pen and paper are almost a thing of the past - which is a shame I think.

    All the best Jan

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    1. I miss pen and paper too, Jan...plus it gave you time to really think about what you wanted to write ~ a lost era and art for sure!

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  30. Kim,
    This post is one of my all time favorites of yours. I have many all time favorites of yours. This one, well it ROCKS, as my boys would have said, but now it would be it is SICK, but that means a good kind of sick. ;-)
    I think you know what I mean. ;-) Wait, what did Sam say this morning, oh yes, "You are legit Mom!" :-) I am taking that as totally cool.
    Love your post! It is legit! You did a great job!
    Carla

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    1. Carla, you words have humbled me. I know exactly what you mean...those are all big words around here, too!! Thank you!

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  31. You need to play the long game, Kim. Wait till they're parents themselves and made to feel obsolete. Meanwhile, stick with us, we like your language.
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Thanks Amalia!! Will do!! I am more comfortable around here, trust me!! xoxox

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  32. I hear ya Kim! Luckily my son is too lazy to text and would rather call or facetime me! LOL! We've survived the 80's & 90's, I'm sure we'll survive this! Hope you had a lovely Mothers day!

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    1. Agreed! I remember the 80's lingo well, Vel...some of that was pretty scary, too!! ;)

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  33. Dearest KIM! HELLO! It's been a long time since I've come your way! First of all I must say that I often forget that parents have to battle with technology and their kids just as much and maybe even more so than we teachers. You definitely have your challenges, and so do I as an educator. I personally can't see how long I can teach in this environment where kids think you're asking them to cut off a limb when you tell them to close their computer during instruction, or to put away their cell phones during a lecture, an activity....

    Language changes, it always has. HOWEVER! In our day and age, it is changing more rapidly than any new generation and culture could. POWER TO YA! And, thank you so much for coming to visit me! Anita

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    1. Hello Anita!! I would think you would be on the front lines of the technology battle in class. I know that these kids can't be separated for even minutes from their phones. I can imagine that your job has become more difficult because of this. Yikes!

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  34. Oh my.....most of this is off my chart!!!
    I have a 300 line switchboard....or a flip phone that lives in the car. Thankfully, I am shielded from all of these other things! I don't do any of the social media....I just like to read blogs :^)
    My kids tell me that I am old....well.....I AM!! and very happy to be protected from the crazy world out there!
    Fortunately for me, my grandgirls are word freaks (I don't have to translate, but sometimes I do have to look up the word...they are much smarter than Grandma :^), so their conversation is mostly easy to understand. I don't have to wonder what they mean and that is great!
    Blessings to you,
    the OLD J

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    1. Wow....a 300 line switchboard!! Really, J??? How cool is that?? I would prefer that over the cell phones of today. Too much technology is changing our world in a way I am not fond of...I guess I'm old too. ;) Thanks for weighing in!!

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  35. Kim I find myslelf on Google a lot lately. I have to look up all those abbreviations and words! The struggle is real, and my teens are always sending me links from Buzzfeed and what not. It's like getting a brand new (bad) education all over again.

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    1. The abbreviations really get me Mary! I am always texting back, "translation please?"...lots of fun!!

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  36. From the movie "Cool Hand Luke"...

    "What we have here is a failure to communicate"...

    :)))

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    1. Exactly, Bobbie! Perfectly said!! :))

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  37. Oh dear, Kim. I have a dilemma. I should be laughing because I know this is written sardonically, but I'm so saddened by the reality of what social media is doing to our kids that I just can't. I know I'm old because half of what you shared I know nothing about. Good luck, my friend! Hugs, Nancy

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    1. I am glad that you were able to see the humor in my words, Nancy, but yes, I am saddened as well. Some of what I see on social media is truly disturbing. As a mom, I try to keep my kids on the straight and narrow path, but I cannot shield them from what's out there...and from participating. So I write..and try to laugh about it! ;) Therapy!

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  38. I don't speak the social media language either Kim. Whatever happened to reading a book?

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    1. I don't know Karen, but I wish the days of answering machines and letter writing would come back! How old am I?? ;)

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  39. Oh Kim,
    What are we to do??! Well, having a degree in English and creative writing as well a former Pre-K teacher and Mother of 4, I have always been a stickler for correct English.
    I suppose this is life now and you my friend have written on this topic very well!
    Jemma

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    1. The teacher in me cringes every single time I receive a text with extra letters and no punctuation!! Where's that red pen when you need it, Jemma?? ;)

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  40. Oh Kim...this post really hit home with me! I had no idea LOL was out...LOL...there are so many of those slang terms I have to Google up cuz I don't have teenagers or any kids to straighten me out on the meanings. And I am a total stickler for speaking and writing English the proper way. And you know why? My mother was a very proper lady and her profession as an English teacher! So when you said she constantly corrected you, I could certainly relate to that. My brother and I got that all the time. Her big thing was the word "really." When I was coming along, all the kids said, "that's real cute, or real bad, or real horrible...whatever." When I said it in her presence, she quickly corrected me. The proper way to say that is "really." You don't say "real." We had to say it correctly before we finished anything. There are many more. She would be totally lost in today's society. I think I am too...grin.

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    1. Florence, I am laughing as I read this, because my mom was also a sticker for that kind of word usage. She would always say...you're well, not good! I think my mom would not know what to make of all this technology either. Before she went into the nursing home, she couldn't even use her flip cellphone and she hated the idea of texting. LOL...even it if is out!!! ;)

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  41. hmm - - - no punctuation - nothing spelled out completely OR - oops - or - correctly - i use caps 2 ote thusiasm - o no - not 2 ipe or uss - no ight - ight? oops ... o i SO CONFUSED!!!

    ight info k - will go 4 it wth (with, not what the h) gkids + parents

    - eryl @ artz

    P.S. hope a "-" doesn't mean negative :(

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    1. Very creative Cheryl!! AND it could be negative, but I wouldn't know, so all good!! ;)

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