Six Tech-Related Words We Really Shouldn’t Use IRL

Sometimes, we become so engrossed in the world of ones, zeroes, and funny pictures of cats that we forget the distinction between cyberspace and the real world. That means that our civilization has evolved to the point where all it needs to accomplish anything is to sit in front of an illuminated magic box full of wires for hours. Unfortunately, this also means that some elements that don’t belong in meatspace tend to spill over, like odd terms and lingo that only really make sense in the virtual world. Here are six words that I really hope you aren’t using in face-to-face conversation.

1. LOL (and all of its variations, like ROFL, ROFLMAO, etc.)

LOL stands for "Laugh Out Loud", or "Laughing Out Loud", or "your last attempt at humor was about as witty and funny as triple bypass surgery, but I have to be polite, so yeah." Never mind the fact that you’re not really "laughing out loud" when your mouth isn’t too busy to say it. It just sounds so awkward. And it gets even worse when people stretch the "O" sound, which happens a lot.

Some Random Officemate (SRO): "So I walked up to him, and I said, I said ‘welp, that could’a gone better!’ and, and, and punched him in the groin." Hopefully This Isn’t You (HTIY): "LOOOOL so what are we having for lunch?"

Come to think of it, ALL Internet acronyms sound dumb when you use them in real life. Please, don’t. Think of future generations. Think of the children.

2. "troll" / "trolling"

Ah, trolling. Originally coined as a term referring to online users who purposely antagonize, mislead, or flat out insult other users to get a rise out of them, the word has been unfortunately appropriated by people who realize that they said something stupid immediately after saying it. The ultimate backpedaling tool for any argument, "I was just trolling" is this generation’s "can’t you take a joke, man?" and is only advisable for conversational use during exactly one kind of occasion: Never.

HTIY: Man, the new guy sure looks like a dumb little sucker, doesn’t he? SRO: Actually, he’s our new boss, and I think he’s standing right behind you. HTIY: …Haha, I totally trolled you. Haaaa. Ha.

3. "pwned"/ "pwning" / "pwnage"

More of a result of the proximity between "O" and "P" on the keyboard than an attempt to revolutionize online communication, "pwn" and its derivatives are most commonly used in online gaming sessions as an archaic and crude (but nevertheless effective) taunt. The reason why this shouldn’t be used in regular conversation should be obvious.

HTIY: You really should try coming up with better excuses than "my business phone was switched off." She definitely pwned your butt, bro. SRO: Excuse me, what? HTIY: Pwned. You know, she won? She saw through your lie? SRO: Oh. You mean owned. HTIY: Really? That’s how it’s pronounced? Oh God, I’ve been saying it wrong all these years! Nooooooooooooo! SRO: <walking away> Hah. Pwned.

4. "sexting"

Really, is there ANY sort of social interaction where the use of this word would be acceptable? Sexting is the act of sending lewd pictures or messages through mobile phones, and the word is as disgusting as the act itself. Come on. Try saying it out loud. It’s just lewd. Do you really kiss your mother with that mouth? Shame on you.

HTIY: <censored> sexting <censored> SRO: <assorted expressions of disgust>

See?

5. "hipster"

Seriously, does anyone even KNOW what the hell a "hipster" is these days? The term was first used in the 1940s to refer to middle-class white youth who were fans of the emerging jazz musical scene. It has since evolved into a multi-headed monster of ambiguous definition, and can now mean anything from "indie music enthusiast" to "blind hater of everything mainstream" to "idiot poser". The term has also been used to describe users who go for low-tech or analog devices (or at least, devices that look low-tech) as both a fashion statement and an "ironic" preference.

HTIY: God, I hate hipsters. SRO: Wait, what’s a hipster? HTIY: …Hate ‘em.

6. "Rickroll"

Rickrolling is basically a digital bait-and-switch. Originating from the diarrheic bowel of the Internet (4chan), it was named after the practice of tricking people into clicking a link to singer Rick Astley’s 1987 single Never Gonna Give You Up. It doesn’t work in real life because, well, how exactly do you Rickroll someone IRL?

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