Ten cringeworthy social media terms I loathe using (guilty as charged)

Posted on December 11, 2014 
Filed Under Brainfood, Social Media

1. Gone viral: Everyone drops this term very loosely these days. Any video/post/tweet that receives even the tiniest more attention than usual has “gone viral”. Viral comes from the word virus that denotes an infection. Infections make you ill and connotes negativity. You don’t give someone Ebola or H1N1 intentionally or consciously. But a “viral video” is shared consciously — noted, sometimes without careful examination or thought — and it may or may not be negative. Relating it to an infection just makes it cringeworthy. I prefer “shareable”, but I know that’s never going to stick. Perhaps, the word “popular” will do.

2. Monetize eyeballs: When a print editor drops this bomb I know he’s gone over to the dark side. He thinks it’s hip, but it’s so 1990s. We used to be called readers. Now we’re just eye sockets with dollar signs in editors’ irises. You’re a “pageview” or a “unique” for which a commercial value must be extracted. Which brings us to…

3. Traffic: “Viewership” and “readership” seem to have a nice, stately, cruiseshippy connotation. Traffic just connotes jams, smog, anxiety and roadrage. It suggests we humans are just being herded into some corral like farm animals. “We need to bring in more traffic and monetize those eyeballs”, says Mr Marketeer. Urghh.

4.Engagement: Nice word. It’s a step up from sleeping together but just shy of taking the plunge. But in Mr Marketeer’s parlance, a unique visitor (he visits, he doesn’t read, view, or listen) is considered “engaged” when he @tags, shares, comments or likes your last post on a friend’s funeral. “To calculate the ER (engagement rate), take the total PTAT (people talking about this) and divide by the total number of likes.” Sounds like a mathematical formula to derive whether the couple will eventually get hitched or not.

5. New Media: It isn’t new anymore. The net has been with us since 1969. The web since 1990. It is hard to call something new anymore when it’s old.

6. Social media: Put the word “social” in front of anything and it will sell. I should know. I train people on social media marketing, social media journalism, social media crisis. In fact they’ve even dropped the word media: it’s social marketing, social selling, social business. Social business, you say? I say, oxymoron.

7. Hyperconnected: Seriously, this was the theme for a major political party’s forum “A Hyperconnected World: Challenges in Nation Building” in 2014. So someone thought the word hyper is still sexy. It isn’t. In this article, they even mention that we live in an “era where dissemination is at warp-speed”. “Aye, aye captain. Shall we add some hype to that too and sprinkle it with hyperlinks.” Anything prefixed with hyper eg: hypermarket, is just hyperbole, and sounds so dated. The word hyper needs to vanish from our vocabulary just like the triangular ship in the arcade game Asteroids when we hit the Hyperspace button.

8. Smartphone: The phone’s smart. And we aren’t? Some friends still feel obliged to send me XXX videos via WhatsApp making the phone a smutphone. We went from handphone to featurephone to smartphone. What’s next hyperphone? Noooo.

9. Bleeding-edge: Beyond the leading-edge? Really? Come on. That seemed cool to say like in 1999. Now it just sounds creepy and macabre.

10. Listicle: defined as “an article on the Internet presented in the form of a numbered or bullet-pointed list”. Sounds like a list to me. Why “listicle” when “list” will do? Was it merged with “popsicle” = sweet lists you can lick or like? Or perhaps it derives from testicle = lists with some gonads? Or maybe it’s a combo of list and tickle. Which makes this, if you came this far, one of them.


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