SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
Would you like a selfie? How about a twerk?
Your confusion could be understandable, especially if you’re not on the internet much. (Are there many people besides my grandmother who aren’t on the internet?) The good news is that if you don’t know these terms … you’re probably better off.
So what are they? Do you order two more selfies for the road? Is a twerk a pair of high school nerds? Is either one something you’d better do with the curtains closed and the door locked? Can you have a selfie twerk?
(Turns out you can.)
Most important, why are we even having this conversation?
The answer to that last is easy: The Oxford Dictionary has legitimized selfie by making it the 2013 word of the year, while twerk came in a close second.
Who gives the folks at Oxford the right to decide what should be added to the English language? Well … they do, I guess.
There were other runners-up, including bedroom tax. This has to do with a change in the British welfare system that penalizes people who the government decides have too much room. Apparently some people listed such things as blisters and acne to explain why they were unable to work (and needed taxpayer money) so they overhauled the system.
I say, it depends on where the blister is.
Another “word” that’s actually two is binge-watch, the process of watching multiple TV episodes of the same show in a short time. I’ve been guilty of this starting as far back as Buffy the Vampire Slayer … luckily for my health, my wife likes all the same shows I do but doesn’t like to watch too much TV at a time. Other people are apparently moving entertainment centers into their bathrooms.
Then there’s Schmeat, also known as synthetic meat, which apparently is made out of petroleum oil, or something worse.
Another is bitcoin, a digital currency, which in reality doesn’t have any value but is treated as if it does. Kind of like the American dollar.
Then there’s olinguito, a South American mammal used to make schmeat and bitcoins, which in the wild has been known to twerk.
Certainly twerk is the best known of the runners-up, thanks to a former child performer-turned sleazy sexpothead (that’s a word I just coined) named Miley Cyrus. (Sexpothead … I like it.) Miley – I feel she’s on a first name basis with everyone – did what appeared to be a deep squat exercise while attempting to lick the face of a fan in row eight.
Some people are calling that a dance.
Nobody knows for sure where the word came from, but its technical description is shaking the hips in an up and down bouncing motion, causing the dancer’s … um … bottom to shake, wobble and bounce. Some people find this arousing, apparently. I missed Miley’s performance, but for this column I watched a video of it.
My reaction: I alternated between giggling and dry heaves. Ginger Rogers danced; Miley Cyrus has uncontrollable convulsions.
Let’s move on to the winner, selfie. It may be a little silly, but unlike twerk it doesn’t make me feel like I need to shower.
Selfie is a term that simply means taking a photograph of yourself. That’s it, although it usually also means that photo ending up on the internet. Rule number one of posting photos on the internet: Don’t do it while drunk.
According to Yahoo News, the very authority on something, the first known use of the term came from an Australian online forum post in 2002:
"Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie."
Pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? I’m happy to say a photo did not accompany that quote.
Apparently Australians have a thing for changing words to end with ie … i.e., “Put a shrimp on the barbie, but don’t drink too many tinnies of beer or the firies might have to come put out the flames.” Kinda scarie.
In 2012 the word exploded, and since then we’ve been bombarded with photos people take of themselves, or themselves with their friends, their pets, their cars, celebrities, or twerkers. There’s been a 17,000 percent increase in the usage of that word, which is what caught Oxford’s attention.
Selfies can be silly, but I don’t criticize the photo takers much (as long as they’re not twerking at the time). Why? Because I take selfies myself. I can count on one hand the number of photos of myself I like – ever – and yet I’m constantly taking photos of me, my wife, the dog, or all at once, often accompanied by a huge thing along the side that can only be my arm. It’s fun, and I no longer have to pay for film. Narcissistic, you say?
Yeah, but at least I’m not twerking.
I tried once.
I got over it thanks to ibuprofen, my chiropractor, and a deep sense of shame.