I do this thing nowadays where when I come up with something I want to talk about I now have to take a minute and decide whether I want to put it on the blog or TikTok. I think this one is actually going to go both places, but framed differently. I have to be briefer and funnier over there than I think is necessary on the blog– not that brief and funny isn’t good here, but I think people have more patience with prose than they do with video.
That out of the way, does anyone out there– and I’m talking mostly to the teachers who might be reading this– feel like the jump in new slang terms from last year to this year has been more thorough than any particular single year of school? New words and phrases emerge all the time, of course, and no group of kids speaks exactly like the one a year before or a year after them, and definitely not like the ones two years before or after them. But there’s something going on this year where these kids are throwing around a lot of words that I’ve not seen in previous years, to a degree that I feel like I’ve never seen before.
Some are more obvious than others (you know what “sus” means the first time you hear it) and others are a little bit more difficult– everything in the universe is either “cap” or “no cap” to my 8th graders right now, and I haven’t, uh, sussed out exactly what that one means yet. But there’s something going on here. It’s not just that I’m getting older; this has been a thing for my entire career, because it’s how youth culture works. I was too old for middle school slang when I was out of college; I’m not really any more too old for it at 44.