How often do you think about the slang and phrases you say? Do you even notice until someone points out that they don’t understand what you mean or have never heard of it? We’re all unique in this way, depending where we grew up and who we surround ourselves with determines the language we use. It also depends what age we are and as millenials a lot of our language comes from the internet and current trends.
But wherever you grew up, I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase:
Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will live forever.
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How aware are we of our words that we say to one another and the phrases that we use in everyday life? At college we meet students, professors and faculty from all over the world, let alone from all over America. Just the other day I learnt “shredding the gnar” which according to Urban Dictionary means “doing side tricks on a surfboard/ skateboard/ snowboard/ scooter/ sled and/ or roller skates.” I didn’t believe it was a phrase until I saw Zac Efron’s recent post with him saying it in the caption.
How many times have you heard someone talk about the list of things they have to do that day and end the sentence with “I’m gonna die.” It’s said in a joking matter, to exaggerate the fact that what lies ahead of them is difficult and lengthy, but have you considered how that sounds?
How many times have you seen a student look at an essay prompt knowing they have hours in front them of sitting at a desk working and then they say “kill me now”. Again, it’s a joke. But is it funny?
What about others phrases like “I wish I was dead” or “shoot me”? Throughout the week I hear this multipe times from students. WIthout even thinking of the meaning behind what they’re saying. Can you think of others that are similar to this?
When we say phrases like this we normalize it. We normalize hearing people joke about suicide, shootings or murder. Now, you may think I might be being a bit dramatic, over-exaggerating the situation. It’s just a joke and we know that they don’t mean it, right? But imagine it without the context of sitting in Starbucks discussing homework. If someone said to you I wish I was dead … would you find it funny?
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in 2017 there were 1,400,000 suicide attempts. It is now the 10th leading cause of death in the US. Suicide is a problem. It is not a joke. The more we joke about it and say it in our culture, the more we desensitize the meaning of it. In young adults, aged 15 to 24, the rate of suicide has trippled.
Now I’m not saying we need to stop joking with one another but we need to be more sensitive with our jokes and think about the meaning behind them.
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