The idea for this column came from my students in an in-person, good old-fashioned, face-to-face classroom, as the students were conversing with each other. The nice thing about face-to-face classes is that students often learn from each other. Also, I learn from them, sometimes without even realizing how much learning is actually occurring when the conversation is spontaneous and based upon something someone else said. Let me explain.
Most of us can agree that we use terms today that were not around just a few years ago. In biomed, I think of terms like HTM, cybersecurity, LinkedIn, ransomware and webinar. But beyond that, I think of how everyday slang has evolved over the years. As I take a closer listen, I realize that I am now two generations behind the latest slang. It makes perfect sense because several of my students are children of previous students.
Most of you are familiar with the different generations and what they are called. But here is a short review. Generally, people of my generation are called “Generation X,” and were born between 1965 and 1980. Individuals born before 1965 are sometimes called “Boomers.” Hence, the derogatory phrase, “OK, Boomer,” expressed by those younger generations who cannot rapidly think of a proper response when confronted with ideas older than their own, regardless of if those ideas are good ones. Those of us in the Generation X age might ask them instead to take a “chill pill.” Millennials are those individuals born between 1981 and 1996 (roughly between 26 and 40 years of age if my math is close). They have gone through their struggles with “adulting” but have mostly overcome that hurdle and are focusing on “keeping it 100.”
I have nothing against any generation. I have generally been able to keep up with most of the terms and slang heard around campus over the past 25 years. But some of the latest terms have me a bit confused. The newest generation, often called Generation Z, are individuals born between 1997 and 2012 (ages 10-25), and many are now on college campuses. They have some interesting new ways of using familiar words. For example, one student said another was a “CEO” at troubleshooting. Turns out this is a common term (unfortunately) that means someone has mastered something. I tell them that if their goal is to be good at troubleshooting, they should set their goals a little higher. Oof.
A weird term, that I haven’t seen before is “cheugy,” which means not at all trendy or perhaps someone who is trying too hard to be trendy, usually aimed at someone from an older generation. Just letting you know now, if you like Apple products, Harry Potter, skinny jeans, or Tory Burch (what the heck is that?), you may be cheugy.
One that just floored me was “drip,” as in “That guy has drip.” Now, in another lifetime, over 35 years ago, I was a proud member of the U.S. Navy and that sentence would have meant that someone needed to visit the Hospital Corpsman or perhaps a Navy doctor at his earliest convenience. But apparently, now, it is the thing to have.
And now, “snack” apparently means someone “looking exceptionally good” instead of a meal between meals. At my age, I have no doubt that no one will confuse what I mean when I say snack.
One term I do get is “Oof” which is used to reflect “something bad.” See the example above. That one goes back before my time to the great Jackie Gleason.
One of the things we are not allowed to do is to “drag” someone as in make fun of them or roast them. Some might call this teasing. Of course, 30 something years ago, other meanings would come to mind, one involving drawing smoke from a cigarette or something else, another referring to a certain fashion statement.
Just a couple more. To say someone “understood the assignment” means that person is successful at what they needed to do. This one I understand, especially in the education environment. “Say less” is a more polite term for “shut up” (I like that one and might adopt it when needed). Of course, there are many more. These are just some of the more common ones I have heard around campus.
As time marches on, the next generation, called Generation Alpha by some, is on its way. These folks were born after 2012. There is a good chance this generation will teach me even more “cool” terms. And that’s no cap.
– Roger A. Bowles, MS, EdD, CBET, is a biomedical equipment technology/medical imaging technology instructor at Texas State Technical College-Waco.
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