This begins our series from the Freshmen Cortina Composition class about word choices in speech communities. Enjoy!
In a world where Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram rule the lives of teenage girls, there are several new words and phrases that are dominating the pop culture. Social media has become people’s personal diary. Emotions are expressed in 140 characters or less; people’s best days are captured in a single picture. The restrictions social media has made on articulating feelings has led to new words in our culture like “swag,” “YOLO,” and “selfie” in order to portray situations in as few words as possible. “I can’t even” is another example and is used out of frustration, ignorance, and efficiency.
A few weeks ago, I was over at a friend’s dorm room because we needed to catch up with what was going on in our lives. As the conversation progressed, I found myself not being able to share all of the emotions I was feeling. I continually said “I can’t even do this right now” because I was not feeling comfortable enough to talk about a recent event that had happened. I was using “I can’t even” as a way to avoid an emotional meltdown. I knew if I expressed my emotions I would become vulnerable.
The evolving social media aspect of present-day society has contributed to the lack of emotional output girls are willing to express in person. There becomes a disconnect and a lack of trust between people. All people have to do now is sit behind a computer screen and tweet out their feelings in the comfort of their home instead of having face to face interaction and discussions about emotions. The words that I choose to speak have been affected by what others around me are using. For me, using “I can’t even” has revealed me as one to be more emotionally reserved, and it has become a refuge in maintaining my emotional wall. I also value efficiency, and this phrase allows me to quickly summarize all the emotions that go on in my head. Because of that, I will continue to say “I can’t even,” but I will not let the phrase become so instilled in my vocabulary that I am not able to share my feelings with my friends when I truly need to. There comes a point where people need to balance the relationship they have with social media and how they express themselves and figure out how much they want it to affect their personal life, which is a step that I have taken and encourage others to do as well.