Wednesday, September 07, 2016

A Failure to Communicate....Tell Me Something New

(Image from
Like some latter-day Jane Goodall, Wired columnist Mary Choi, who is in her mid-thirties, examines the social-media life of teens, "with its own arcane rules and etiquette."

The platforms of choice are Instagram, basically Facebook limited to photos, videos, and comments, and Snapchat, which is Instagram with a self-destruct timer. [bold added]
[Atherton twins Lara and Sofia] know the rules. They’re bright. They get excellent grades and are wary—extremely dialed in. And while they’d never outright call them rules, they recognize guidelines that govern their social habits. For starters, as mentioned, both girls’ Instagram accounts are set to private. [snip]

Then there is the rule about likes and comments. According to Lara and Sofia, when your friend posts a selfie on Instagram, there’s a tacit social obligation to like it, and depending on how close you are, you may need to comment. The safest option, especially on a friend’s selfie, is the emoji with the heart eyes. Or a simple “so cute” or “so pretty.”

On any platform, however, oversharing is considered taboo. Or else “awkward.” Awkward is a ubiquitous teen word to denote socially unsanctioned behavior.

One example of awkward plays on Instagram: the “deep like.” This is where you lurk on someone’s account, going way back into the archives, and accidentally double-tap on an old picture...

ask any teen how to use social media—what those rules are—and they won’t be able to tell you a thing. But ask them targeted questions and they’ll break down a palimpsest of etiquette in rote, exhaustive detail: the moon emoji (indicates awkwardness), screengrabbing Snapchat messages (don’t do it), and Instagram selfie saturation points (no back-to-backs).
It appears to be impossible for someone 30 or older to be fluent in Snapchat-ese. Gen-X'ers, Millennials, and certainly Boomers shouldn't make fools of themselves by trying to speak the language.

Besides, teens have always spoken in code to shield their conversations from grownups (just as immigrants switch to their native tongues in front of non-speaking Americans). It may be slightly rude, but look at this way, eventually they are likely to come to you, so you don't have to go to them.

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