*Headdesk* HIFW my aunt asked if I met my virtual bae IRL. #LULZ!

If that headline made absolutely no sense to you, then welcome to the club. Internet slang evolves at a pace that seemingly no one over the age of 18 can keep up with.

I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself old, or even middle-aged! But there are definitely times when I’m looking at Twitter, or sometimes even listening to some young people speak, and I feel positively ancient when I come across some new-fangled Internet slang.

Language changes and evolves, it’s only natural. We have Hinglish, in Singapore they have Singlish, and there are myriad other dialects and languages we will never hear about.

Technology has been changing how we use language as well. I suppose we really started noticing it when everyone started using SMS language. Txtspk anyone? But then, somewhere along the line, the Internet exploded. Chatrooms and online messaging mushroomed, and eventually we went mobile.

Personally, when the Internet really sped up was when I started noticing a disconnect between how I “spoke” online and how some younger people I knew did. It seemed like we inhabited completely different planets.

How do you make sense of this fast-moving world of Internet language? I thought I’d put together a small guide to get you started and then point you to some online resources so you know exactly what the kids are saying.

YOLO: You only live once. You can use this as a way to excuse almost anything you want to do that might be frowned upon.

Facepalm: Similar to Headdesk in the headline above, used as a reaction to something stupid.

IRL: In real life. For many people who live a lot of their lives online, this is a big deal. It’s a big decision to meet IRL and not one to be taken lightly.

ELI5: Explain like I’m five. This is pretty self-explanatory, but it can be used ironically and passive-aggressively as well.

ICYMI: In case you missed it. I’ve actually started seeing this on Twitter feeds from journalists and news organisations.

TL;DR: Too long; didn’t read. This is a particularly useful one to have at your fingertips. Especially when replying to those too long emails or messages.

NSFW: Not safe for work. This is a good one to know. You’ll see it on headlines, on tweets and other places and it usually signifies that this is not something you want to click on unless you’re alone.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. So if you’re ever left scratching your head, just do a quick search. My favourite site for these things, however, is Definitely check it out. Apart from telling you what’s what, it also makes for some fun reading, if you have some time to waste online.

If you thought you were all up to speed with the kids, slang is just one side of the coin. The other is emoji… But that’s a story for another day.

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