Not long ago, my daughter started begging me to let her have a Facebook account. Only, she didn’t call it a Facebook account. Instead, she said, “Mom, can I have a Facebook, pleeeeease?”
“A Facebook account, you mean.” I’d reply. I assumed she was just misspeaking. Later, I heard her friend also refer to an account as “a Facebook.” I thought perhaps my daughter had picked the habit up from her friend. Then, at a store, I overheard an adult, in her twenties, talk about her “Facebook.” Not her account, but her Facebook. In my mind, that made it official.
|I’ve never been one of those picky writers prone to telling people they are misusing words or should have used a semicolon instead of a comma. I see language as a living, evolving thing.
Sure, there are times when people are simply making gross errors, but if language is constantly changing, it gets hard to draw lines. If enough people say “impacted” often enough to mean affected, it will come be an accepted synonym. Picky grammarians must have complained when people began saying they “Googled” something. Now the word, with that use, is in the dictionary.
So, perhaps it’s not surprising that I also heard a woman in Starbucks say she “Facebooked” something, meaning she posted it on Facebook.
Youth and Texting
In addition to the changes I’m seeing in our language, as a result of social networks, I’ve been surprised to see just how dominant texting has become. My daughter (the same one begging me for a Facebook) now has a cell phone. Her plans with her friends are made almost exclusively through texting. Sleepovers and playdates are all arranged via this preferred method.
I’d seen a study saying that young people, including office workers, are much more likely to text and much less likely to call. You can’t rely on them checking their voice mail–if it’s important, text me! My officemate has complained about her own daughter’s tendency to only respond to texting. The point was really driven home to me forcefully at a recent party.
It was a birthday party celebrating a friend’s 50th. Her twenty-one year old son was there, and it was the first time we’d seen him since he (thankfully) returned safely from Iraq. He’s now sharing an apartment with three high school buddies. We were chatting with him and he was telling us how he’d ended up with a hot date the night before. A friend of his decided he wanted a flying squirrel for a pet (don’t ask me–another youth trend?). They were checking craiglist and sure enough, someone was selling a flying squirrel.
“There was a number with the ad,” he said. “So, I texted the number. I couldn’t tell if it was a guy or a girl, but the person texted me back and we set up a time to meet.”
Now, I was following along just fine until he said he texted the number. I expected to hear the familiar term “dialed the number” or “called the number.” I almost literally did a double-take when he said texted. It never would have occurred to me to text someone about an ad. But it probably never occurred to him to call in response to one, except as a last resort. He texted instead, and the person who placed the ad texted right back. The whole exchange took place without any spoken words or the sound of a voice.
If you’re wondering, the end of the story is that the two guys went to check out the flying squirrel. My friend’s son had to pick his jaw up off the floor when a total babe opened the door. As they negotiated the sale, he felt a connection between them. The guys bought the squirrel and left, and he was thinking he should have gotten her number, when he realized he already had it. So, of course, he texted her about going out and they did. They were, in fact, texting each other during the party, after a successful date the night before.
So, next time I respond to a Craig’s List ad, I’m going try texting the seller first. Apparently, texting people selling flying squirrels leads to hot dates.
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