Here on Rocky Top, we all know that #orangeisthenewblack, and apparently, Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake know the same thing.
The duo's recent video, "#Hashtag with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake," has received millions of views for its witty portrayal of a spoken conversation that incorporates the #hashtag symbol, which has long been a hallmark of Twitter and other forms of social media.
The video comically sheds some light on the way human language has taken on various dimensions during a digital age. As the era of information has progressed, so has our language, and the flow of conversation has never been the same.
In elementary school, we began with phrases like LOL, and ROFL. If the Instant Messenger conversation didn't go so well, we'd end with a TTYL.
As MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have slowly become a part our lives, social media has taken an increasingly important role in our verbal descriptions.
Though this knowledge seems somewhat inherent, the rapid changes in verbal communication due to social media don't always translate to the older generations.
I sat at my parents' kitchen table, after a long car ride back to my hometown one Friday afternoon, chatting with my family. As I finished one story, I nonchalantly concluded, "And I was like, lawl."
My parents blinked in confusion.
"Lawl?" My mom responded, looking at me with genuine misunderstanding.
I looked back with equal surprise. I've used the phrase many times, and my family's blank stares were unsettling. I couldn't believe they didn't catch my sarcastic, spoken use of LOL. I had to backpedal, and explain the literal term, which seemed extremely awkward.
I consider language as one of the highest orders of human abilities, and the biggest distinguishable difference between us and other animals.
Some people—very notably the French—work very diligently to preserve language traditions. The famed French Academy has long used 40 distinguished linguistic geniuses to express to the French people what words can and cannot function within the French language. In fact, in 2011, the Academy launched a website to more efficiently remind the French people how to speak a language that's "pure, eloquent and capable of dealing with the arts and science."
With the obvious influence of the Internet, language has rapidly evolved in intriguing new ways, but I don't necessarily see these rapid changes as a threat to the sanctity of language.
As an English major, the nuances of the English language are of interest to me. While many teachers and scholars bemoan the new spins on spoken and written language, claiming the erosion of modern language, I think the new patterns of speech denote a cultural milestone.
The great Shakespeare himself made similar innovative linguistic strides during his time, and invented new words whenever he deemed fit. As a result, he gifted the English language with a bounty of important words, such as "lonely," "blushing," "amazement," "gossip" and even "swagger."
The digital age has invented a new line of communication by implementing signs and typed acronyms, which seems somewhat brilliant to me. Our written communication via text and type has become a major fixture of people's lives, and speaking in the same terms seems only natural.
With English classes aside, the digitized verbal exchange has become a regular part of many conversations and adds a new avenue to our language. Some circles, especially those with preservationist tendencies, may not like the new direction.
Rather than fight the change, I recommend we embrace it.
Because, as Justin Timberlake would say, #thatshowwedo.
Sarah Hagaman is a sophomore in English. She can be reached a firstname.lastname@example.org.