Deciphering the language of social media – Our online lives reflect our off-line lives, the experts say. Social media is deeply entrenched in our world and whether you’re going through FOMO or creeping along, you’re part of the new social world we live in. Even though we are really not that different online, we do things differently virtually.

Gloria and Erica - social media

Image Credit: Joy Ma

Social media experts Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet and Erica Pelavin walked me through a list of terminology that sprang from behavior in the social world. You’ll recognize the terms or catch on immediately. Chances are by the time you read this article, at the rate social media is going, many of the terms may be oh so retro.

FOMO or FOMS – the fear of missing out, or the fear of missing something. Whether it is missing a party or catching the start of a viral video, adults and children need to be in the know. This is how people feel they are part of a group and socialize online.

Creeping or lurking – following status updates from the privacy of the home. Children sometimes feel their parents are creeping after them.

Vaguebooking – an open ended comment or status update. “Glad the day is over,” for example, invites comments.

Couch cache – this is literally being at home and being everywhere through location services and social media.

e-void or evoid – a few decades ago, we used the answering machine to screen messages. From not answering that email or sending emails at the end of the day, to blaming bad reception or technology, evoid is prevalent at work and in the home.

Phone phobia – this one is exactly what it sounds like: People prefer to use texts instead of the phone. One typical example is getting a text back when you leave a voice message.

Social collateral – having several social media accounts such as Instagram in addition to Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Like-counting has actually been responsible for insomnia in teens and tweens.

Techno perfection — using technology to create a perfect image became real when Instagram made it possible to create a flawless image. Some pictures have what is known as the web glow. For children and young adults who are comparing themselves to a ubiquitous feed of media and virtual perfection, this can be troublesome. Dove is one company that has done a good job of deconstructing the real face of beauty in its videos on YouTube.

Gloatgram — Photosocializing is a daily public diary in pictures. A gloatgram is a post that features leisure, food and expensive events.

Erica Pelavin and Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet are the founders of My Digital TAT2, an organization that helps educators, parents and students work together to create a community of kindness and respect both on and offline.

In their work with children and the adults that support them they see all the trends in social media that rise and ebb much like a digital tsunami. For young people, social media can be all-consuming at an age when self-esteem and being liked matter most. It does carry on to the adult world in social media, not unlike the real world.

“If there’s one thing that you can take away about the digital world, it’s that your reputation online never goes away,” says Moskowitz-Sweet. It’s like a tattoo that can’t be completely removed.

The example she used was taking a picture with someone in the background who is not in focus. Someone comments about the person in the background and the thread goes viral and on to a meme. “In some ways it is about social responsibility to ourselves and others. There are unintentional consequences and because social media is a bigger stage in front of a bigger audience, you have to consider what you are doing,” says Pelavin.

The consequences can be brutal – from vicious bullying on social media to just being available all day, every day. It’s called digital tethering. Leave without a digital device and some people report hearing phantom rings.

Both Pelavin and Moskowitz-Sweet see efforts to stop cyber bullying as most effective through social media. One effective way is to have one person stop the torrent of negative comments. “Building compassion mobs that rally around a person being bullied breaks the cycle,” says Moskowitz-Sweet. Ann Collier’s Connect Safely gives parents insights into how to navigate social media, what to do and how to help their children.

As far as digital tethering goes, it can be stressful. From a child who goes to college to adult relationships and friendships. Sometimes it becomes textual harassment.

My Digital TAT2 founders Pelavin and Moskowitz-Sweet see early adopters who are now in their 20s beginning to back away, forming smaller circles and leaving social media where it needs to be – a part of their lives, but not all of it.

And as for how they do it, here’s another term you’ve probably heard:

AFK, away from keyboard – This is physically distancing oneself from the keyboard and access to being connected.

Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Joy Ma

Joy Ma

Contributor at Tech Page One
Based in Silicon Valley, Joy Ma is a longtime tech journalist and startup veteran. She currently serves as’s Executive Editor. Email her [email protected]
Joy Ma
Tags: Business,Education