The Enigma of Snapchat, Modern Diction and Other Things

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Gif via Giphy

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How Snapchat Built a Business by Confusing Olds: This article delves into the mystery that is Snapchat, a platform founded by some kids in college to securely send impermanent photos (yes, like nudes) that has transformed into a major media source whose content is both nonsensical and outrageously popular. Much to the confusion of older generations, this user-unfriendly messaging app is widely used among millennials. Celebrity Snapchatters like DJ Khaled frequently share content that gets about as many views as popular television programs, such as The Big Bang Theory. While the cost for advertising is significantly higher than Facebook, marketers are seeing a lot of success reaching audiences on Snapchat. In fact, Tastemade, a brand who has a coveted spot among the Discover page, completely reoriented itself after finding success on the app, increasing its company size and amassing an extra $40 million in venture capital. While analytics remains a weak point for the platform, Snapchat announced in February that it plans to provide detailed demographic information to advertisers through Nielsen’s digital ratings service. tl;dr – It’s time to get your brand on Snapchat.

The Atlantic Is Killin’ it with Diction Analysis: Why do so many digital assistants have feminine names? This article set out to examine the gender disparity in naming conventions for AI systems like Siri, Cortana and Alexa. One explanation is that the patriarchy is just doing what it does best: objectifying women and belittling them to inferior roles, like secretaries. Another explanation, however, is that people take orders better from female voices. Naturally, I hope it’s the latter because ladies are boss bitches who deserve their due cred. Unfortunately, it’s probably just because the makers of anthropomorphic technologies (mainly men), view women as not fully human beings.

This article, also published in the Atlantic, examines the phenomenon of the transformation of “LOL” into a punctuation mark. Instead of literally meaning “laughing out loud,” the abbreviation is now left dangling at the end of a sentence to signify irony, sarcasm or ambivalence. In fact, rarely does LOL suggest actual laughter of any kind when used today, according to e-laughing data from Facebook. But LOL is far from extinction—it’s still used frequently in conversation. LOL just doesn’t mean “funny” anymore. Take this example from an essay by the linguist John McWhorter:

“Jocelyn texts ‘where have you been?’ and Annabelle texts back ‘LOL at the library studying for two hours.’ How funny is that, really?” (Not very.) Instead, McWhorter argued, the “LOL” in the women’s exchange is standing in as, effectively, a marker for empathy. It is replacing the things that can be achieved in an in-person conversation—the nodding of the head, the contact of the eyes, the tiny gestures that together lend the “L” to the “IRL”—with a three-letter symbol. “LOL,” McWhorter put it, “no longer ‘means’ anything. Rather, it ‘does something’—conveying an attitude—just as the ending ‘ed’ doesn’t ‘mean’ anything but conveys past tense. LOL is, of all things, grammar.”

Cool Happenings: Giphy’s Gif Editor lets you add stickers and text to existing gifs, there’s a Chrome extension that automatically clicks “Continue watching” for you on Netflix, today is March 31.

Stay classy, nerds.

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