Social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter are as popular as jean jackets were in the '90s. When used within the contexts of the networks, words take on new computer-based definitions. Words refer to electronic actions and processes of its users. Popular words that have developed second definitions through Facebook and Twitter include "Follow", "Tweet" and "Like".
Social media networks are as popular as jean jackets were in the '90s. The consistent usage of Facebook and Twitter around the world has had huge side-effects on the English language.
The social media websites have created new meanings for words already in the English vocabulary, such as "follows" and "Likes." When used within the contexts of Facebook and Twitter, the words refer to the electronic actions and processes of its users. The additional definitions arise as users develop their own language or mode of communication online with one another.
The Word "Follow"
One of the classic definitions of the word "follow" refers to trailing behind someone, outside the world of computers. The definition involves people getting out of their chairs, stepping away from keyboards and moving their legs. When a person wishes to electronically "follow" a blog, the only movement is that person's fingers typing his or her email address onto the blog homepage.
The currently popular definition of "follow" does not even involve leaving the computer chair. From a blogger's standpoint, to "follow" means to subscribe to the website. Published posts are then sent to a person's email Inbox for his or her viewing pleasure.
"Followers" are also those people who subscribe on Twitter to another person's electronic feed. When a Twitter user chooses to follow someone, he or she allows that person to see tweets and embedded media that is shared through the social media network.
The Word "Like"
Before Facebook's inception, when a person "Liked" an object it meant that he or she felt favorable about the item. The computer was not always involved. Place the word "Like" into the popular context of Facebook and it takes on a different word context.
One imagines the thumbs-up button that symbolizes "Like" on Facebook. Facebook users do not even need to have the word "Like" attached to the magical thumb to know that it stands for whether one Likes a specific page or not.
Read the "Feed": Another New Definition
For websites such as Facebook and Twitter, users can scan the electronic "feed" of other user's profiles. The computer-based definition of "feed" refers to recent activities of other people in the social media network. No food is involved, as in the classic definition of the word.
Instead, in the online world of computers users are being fed data rather than slices of apple or other foods. The word is no longer only food-related as people hungrily read the electronic activities of those they are connected to on the Facebook and Twitter.
The Word "Tweet"
Twitter is easily one of the most popular social media networks today. To "Tweet" on the website refers to sending out a message to one's "followers" (see number "1" above and cross-reference!).
The word "Tweet" no longer only concerns the chirping of a bird outside of the bedroom window. Perhaps people could argue that the definition of "Tweet" created by Twitter is used more often than the bird-related definition these days. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Or is there? With words taking on second definitions and abbreviations due to social media networks, the ways we describe the objects around us change. As people spend more of their time on smartphones and computers, the numbers of second definitions of words that are created are bound to increase substantially.
People "surf" electronic pages without even placing a toe into the waters of the ocean. People "jump" into electronic conversations rather than into the water when they log onto Facebook and Twitter, often on a daily basis. Chances are good that even more definitions are expanding as this article is being written today.