For those of us who spend countless hours clicking around the internet, the language of websites, comment sections, and silly internet jokes comes quite naturally. But what of the souls who don't speak fluent Interweb?
Last week, my boyfriend turned to me while reading the Jezebel comments and asked, "Why do the commenters spell everything wrong?" When I asked him to explain, he said, "Well, they always write 'kitteh' instead of 'kitty' and 'puppeh' instead of 'puppy.' Is that on purpose?" And that is when it hit me: my boyfriend had no idea what LOLSpeak was.
My first reaction was "Where the hell have you been for the past 8 billion years?" LOLSpeak has been all over the internet for what seems like forever, and is so overdone at this point that one wonders if it may, finally, be on its way out. Yet my boyfriend had completely missed the wacky internet phenomenon, and it was nearly impossible to explain it to him without sounding like an idiot:
"Well there's these cats," I began, "and people post pictures of them, you know, like doing things? And then people write captions for these pictures, but they spell things wrong. You know? Like a cat is saying them, only cats are cats and they can't really type? I Can Haz Cheezburger? Does that make sense?"
"Oh," my boyfriend said, looking like I did when my 10th grade Chemistry teacher tried to explain stoichiometry to me.
I then went on to explain the concept of FAIL, showing my boyfriend a few pictures from FAILBlog. "You see, it's a FAIL, because the car is parked on a rock," I explained.
"I see," my boyfriend shrugged, before adding, "Am I really lame because I don't know these things?"
To which I replied: "No, I think I'm really lame because I do know these things."
It's strange, sometimes, to realize how the time you spend on the internet shapes the way you interact with others. My boyfriend and I have been dating for 9 years, yet the way we choose to spend our time online has put a dumb internet language barrier between us. It's weird when you discover that someone you know inside and out is a bit disconnected from the life you've created for yourself online; in commenting, you develop an identity through your word choices which doesn't necessarily reflect who you are or how you communicate offline. I'm sure many of us have encountered looks of complete bewilderment when we try to explain an online joke to one of our friends.
I kind of love the fact that my boyfriend is clueless about the fads of the internet: it's a reality check and a means to disconnect from the online world, which can be all-consuming at times. He's now worried that you will all make fun of him in the comments. "They are going to think I am such a loser," he frowned. Yet I think the fact that he's honestly been able to steer clear of dumb internet memes over the past few years is much cooler than the people who try to pretend that they're too cool for LOLCats and such.
In any case, he's now aware of LOLSpeak, but thankfully hasn't become fluent, though he's made small steps. Before we went to sleep, after our LOLSpeak conversation, he turned to me and said, "Goodnight, baby. Or wait! Goodnight, babeh? Is that it?"
"Yes," I told him, "now never, ever say that again."
Image via [I Can Has Cheezburger]