Much as I like to be considered a modern, open-minded and adventurous, there are time when my age begins to show and I have difficulty keeping up with my daughter or younger colleagues who are much more tech-savvy. One such area is the lingo that the fb-tumbler-twitter-snapchat-generation flings around. There was a time when some words used to have very different meanings, not just to me but the rest of the world:
- Viral- when something was viral you usually landed in the hospital quarantine section and were pumped up with antibiotics, but these days you are catapulted to the top of the charts on all sharing sites and platforms. Instant fame (or infamy).
- Platform – this is no longer a place where you get on and off trains or even something in the engineering context where a flat surface was involved simply to place other things on. Nope, a platform is now an IT environment where others can log in and go about their business.
- Stacking – does not involve placing one brick or box on top of another anymore. Stacking in digital photography involves merging several elements of several photographs into a single composite image.
- Stitching – has nothing to do with needle and thread anymore. In the old days of photography and layouts, if you wanted a long panorama then you take out scissors and glue and paste them together using white-out to even out the junctures. The modern version of putting several images side by side to create a single panorama in realm of digital photography is stitching. Most sophisticated post-editing software will offer this this feature but you need time and lot of patience.
- Vining – has absolutely nothing to do with a plant or even grapes. It involves the use of an app called Vine to create short looping videos to share instantly on social media.
- Tumblr – is not a container for liquids or a gymnast, but social media platform where you share images and videos. Like any other platform these days, you operate from your own account, and are instantly connected with the rest of the world 24/7 if you so desire.
- Facebook – is not an album or a catalogue in a salon of cosmetic surgery clinic where you choose your look, but the social media platform that revolutionized social interaction on all levels.
- Followers – are not stalkers or people who walk behind you. These are subscribers to your posts on sharing sites or social media. You have friends on Facebook but followers in most other sites.
- Feed – is not a food program or anything of biodegradable nutritional value. It is the publication of an item to followers or subscribers of a news site, podcast, or any other platform you have requested regular updates from.
- Twitter – Certainly nothing to do with birds (other than an obnoxious blue bird logo). It’s called micro-blogging, and consists of short messages that you send out to all your followers. It has been a game changer in reporting and all the forms of journalism. It terms of world events, we no longer have to wait for the papers the next morning to read the news, if you haven’t followed it on twitter and heard about it within five minutes of its occurrence you are so out of it!
- Instagram – I was fine with separate concepts of telegrams and instant noodles, but now an Instagram is an instant message in picture form with a short caption. Postcards are a thing of the past. You instagram people from your holiday location before you upload to facebook!
- SnapChat – even worse than Instagram is SnapChat where you can share a photograph or video from your mobile phone. The catch? It last only a few seconds before it self-destructs. I have to wonder about the purpose of this, to someone of my generation this is tantamount of receiving a postcard and then it catches fire while you are still holding it.
- Blogging and Vlogging – neither one of them have anything to do with drains or pipes. Blogging is the electronic version of journal writing; ahem, some of us were raised on paper notebooks and pens. In the journalism fields you have blogs instead of columns now that the entire worldwide net has access to. Vlogging is a video diary, for those who are too lazy to write the thoughts or have created a a series. There are thousands of vloggers who have risen to fame through YouTube these days. Vlogs can take the form of travelogues or instructional videos, some of the more sophisticated versions are lecture series.
- Live streaming – if you were thinking along the lines of a river, fish, and fishing you were completely in the wrong can of worms. Live streaming is what we used to know as live telecast in the good old age of television. Same banana but now the banana has gone digital.
- Dodging –No, you don’t bow down to get out of the trajectory of a flying or falling object. In the processing of digital photography this is when you manipulate the light and shadows of specific areas of the digital image in order to highlight or emphasize the subject.
- Burn – no fire or charcoal involved here. This is the transfer of digital data onto a CD or USB stick to make it mobile. Although this is quickly becoming a thing of the past with the use of Clouds.
- Cloud – Clouds do not contain gaseous matter or condensation. On the contrary, they hold all your digital data (documents, photos, presentation, etc) somewhere in the internet instead of a hard drive, USB, or CD so that you can access them from any device, anytime, anywhere. The jury is still out on whether this is a good thing or not, but it sure is practical for a lot of people.
- Drive – does not involve a steering wheel and four tires anymore. The first thing people will automatically assume when you refer to a drive is a computer accessory.
- TED Talk – A TED Talk is not a speech given by Ted Kennedy or Teddy Roosevelt, or any other famous Teddy for that matter, or a private conversation with your teddy bear. These are a series of talks on issues concerning technology, entertainment and design. In the old days you would go to a community center to listen to a talk of this sort, or a lecture in a university hall. Now you can simply catch them online.
- Air drop – if you are a history buff you will probably think of care packages dropped from airplanes or even soldiers delivered by plane to a particular location. No. No. No. If you are a Mac user, you will know that air dropping data is instant transfer of files via Bluetooth. No parachutes needed.
- Cell phone – is not the pay phone in the jail house but a permanent accessory attached to your body. Your entire life and identity are pegged to the cell phone these days. Nobody memorizes phone numbers!
- Let’s Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp or Viber – I must admit, these are all much more enjoyable ways and means to communicate instead of the old fashioned phone calls. I still remember the times here in the Philippines when there were shared lines or party lines. You had to wait until the other part got off the phone before you could use the line (but you could listen in to the conversation!
- Dropbox it or Evernote me – File sharing used to involve a messenger running between offices (or floors) carrying a folder that people had to sign after they received it. Now all you have to do is share the electronic folder – and it can be with anyone around the world too!
- Virtual Office – It is exactly that, a workspace that doesn’t really have a physical permanence and comes into existence only when you switch on your laptop and begin to work – whether that means sitting in the garage in your pyjamas, on the beach somewhere on a remote island, or a coffee shop with excellent free wi-fi!
- e-bay it -I grew up with the concept of garage sales, and in certain western countries, I enjoy visiting some of these rarities. Otherwise, the place to sell your wares these days, both used and new, is e-bay in what is now called e-commerce. Call me old-fashioned but I still prefer touching the item before buying it, but I will admit to have bought quite a bit on e-bay (before my account was hacked into).
Oh man do I feel my age because I didn’t have to wiki any of the original meanings!
*The shorter, original post was published as “Midlife and Crossroads: Modern Lingo and Nostalgia” on the old blogspot blog September 2015.