Social media is everything to some people and important to everyone. You want to understand what people are saying. After all, it’s a modern water cooler, large enough to have the whole world standing around it.
Given this, we offer you eight social media terms and slang that will give you a head start in reading everything on social media.
1. Direct Message (DM)
First, let’s discuss the “hidden” side of social media. This is nothing underhanded but more about what happens away from your main feed.
Every user gets a private inbox, and you’re able to receive messages there. It’s sometimes called a Private Message (PM), although it’s more often called your DMs because the message reaches you rather than sitting on a public feed.
This feature of social media has myriad names depending on the branding and site in question. Here are a few:
- Vines: Twitter – although this name isn’t used anymore other than in a nostalgic capacity
- Stories: Facebook
- Reels: Instagram
- Shorts: YouTube
We’ve looked at short video formats in the past, and we encourage you to check out that post; if you’re unsure how to use them.
We know, this one is as simple as they come. Though, it’s worth noting that hashtags weren’t a part of social media until Twitter and Instagram made them popular.
For the unaware, hashtags are the short, “linkable” words and phrases found alongside (or sometimes inside) social media posts.
They used to be restricted to certain social media platforms, but you’ll find them across the space now.
4. Reactions and Emojis
In short, and as you may be aware, emojis are graphical icons that do what “emoticons” used to. In other words, they convey emotions without words.
There’s even been a movie dedicated to emojis (although we don’t recommend watching if you’re serious about film). The classic “face-based” emojis are still popular, although there are a few unique choices that you’ll see often:
- 💀: The skull is used when something is cringeworthy, embarrassing, or otherwise uncomfortable. It represents dying inside, and you’ll also see the casket (⚰️) used too.
- 🔥: The fire emoji is used when something has gone well, or has taken off. It’s “lit”, as the kids say. 😎
As for reactions, these are found across social media (Facebook is the most popular) on a per-post basis. It lets you like a post using a selection of emojis, so the user can better gauge its reaction. It was something introduced at Buzzfeed, and has taken off across the whole of social media.
There are many more based on local customs and use cases, so be prepared to look out for anything appearing on a regular basis.
This author is a fan of children’s instructional books. If you’re learning a new subject, one of the best ways to make it stick is to explain it to someone younger. If they can get it, your distilled version has more of a chance to stay in your brain.
The concept of ELI5 is the same – “Explain like I’m five”. This is common on Reddit, where there’s even a subreddit dedicated to the concept.
It’s a great way to “grok” huge concepts and understand them on a base level.
This is one of the newer terms found across social media – so much so that there’s a difference of opinion on what it means. The general consensus is that it’s calling out the difference between likes and retweets. Given the meaning, you’ll find this on Twitter on an almost exclusive basis.
In a nutshell, if you receive more replies than likes for a Tweet, you’re “ratioed.” This often means you’ve been controversial in some way because you have less likes than feedback on your post. This had lead some users to get ratioed for bragging rights, as a form of trolling.
7. Hit Me Up (HMU)
HMU isn’t something that social media came up with, but it’s taken it under its wing. HMU is another way to say “Give this to me”, “Call me,” “Contact me”, or similar. It has its use in dating talk, although it can be applicable in a wide variety of situations.
It’s on this list as a representative of acronyms on social media. You’ll often find these being used, as they save space within limited-format posts while still offering context.
8. “Weird Flex”
A flex is something a muscle does, of course – especially if you’re proud of them. As such, a flex is when you show off on social media. To take things further, a weird flex is when a user will show off, but others find it strange or not noteworthy.
Again, flexing is not a term that was born from social media, but was woven into the lexicon through memes. “Weird flex, but ok” is something you’ll find a lot with image-based posts, especially where the image is strange or unique.
Given how central social media is to our lives, it’s important to understand what’s being said across the various platforms. Much like any popular medium, there’s a lot of slang floating around. Your responsibility is to learn it, whether that’s through being a trendsetter or by reading articles like this one.
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