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Why everyone on social media is talking in the exact same way


When it comes to ‘good vibes only’, we don’t love to see it anymore (Picture: Getty)

Something depressing is happening on Instagram.

Look at every photo taker and no matter how original the thing they are observing, the comments are the same.

It’s all ‘good vibes only’, ‘this This THIS’ and ‘someone didn’t understand the assignment’ (hello Frank Ocean and his green animatronic baby at the Met Gala).

Why are we always ‘absolutely here for it’? Why do we ‘love to see it’? Why do hot people now look ‘insane’? Why does everyone copy and paste Drake lyrics as captions on their social media?

Influencers tend to be especially accomplished at buzzword bingo.

I don’t say all this from some lofty linguistic nirvana: I do it too (I would easily write ALL. THE. TIME. with clapping hand emoji in between each word for emphasis if that weren’t exactly the kind of stylistic nightmare that has seeped into my everyday).

So why do we do it? Why do we want to say/emoji exactly the same things as each other?

Enough with the Drake lyrics on Instagram already (Picture: Harmony Gerber/Getty Images)

Obviously, I immediately blame Instagram and the endless need to provide captions and commentary to even the most banal or — here’s another one — ‘basic’ images. The easiest way to do that is to lean into the latest linguistic fad even at the cost of autonomy. But it’s more simple than that.

‘Humans typically like to use the same buzzwords as one another because it ties them to a certain group or setting and this therefore creates a sense of belonging,’ says Daniele Saccardi, language expert at online tutoring platform Preply.

I am, at the moment, tantalisingly close to adopting the in-vogue turn of phrase that essentially expresses disbelief or derision about a situation that is actually happening yet which perversely always starts with ‘not’. Here’s an example: ‘Not me spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about whether to say “not me”.’

Frank Ocean didn’t understand the assignment at this year’s Met Gala (Picture: Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Obviously, language isn’t in stasis. But all of the language experts I spoke to agreed that social media has accelerated a word’s evolution exponentially.

‘The more social media followers a person has, the more likely it is for a term that they coin, or slang that they use, to catch on publicly, because these people are already considered trend-setters,’ says Cornelia Lahmann, linguist at language learning app Babbel.

‘Similarly, since we are so tuned into popular music, this is why many pop culture words are among those that have slipped into our everyday vocabulary.’

Lahmann pointed me in the direction of a study led by John Sutherland, a professor of English at UCL, which found that parents felt their teenagers spoke an entirely different language on social platforms.

Spotify’s use of slang on this year’s Unwrapped was a prime example of the ‘yassification’ of the ways brands speak (Picture: Getty Images)

And I agree. As a geriatric millennial (yes, really) there are words I feel sort of comfortable with — ‘ghosted’, ‘glow up’, ‘I’m dead’.

But I begin to get lost when it comes to Gen Z TikTok lingo. I have absolutely googled the definitions of both ‘cheugy’ and ‘drip’ and felt about a thousand years old.

What I do understand is that there is a sweet spot with buzzwords — and it’s before high-street brands start using them in advertising campaigns or they join the dictionary.

This transition to mainstream — like any fashion — means while it is more alive and virulent than ever, its kudos is already dead and buried. AMIRIGHT?

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Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.


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