(This post contains adult content and isn’t suitable for younger readers.)
I am not the authority on millennial slang or acronyms. Nor was I ever really an expert in grammar and the AP Style Guide and I never got along well either.
Seeing that I was born before 1981, I myself am not a millennial. This post isn’t intended to put down millennials. But if it stirs something up in you, I suppose it is getting you to think. (Which is the reason for this post.)
Millennials are not bad people. And every generation has been irritated by the generations that have come after it. I do question, that in a society where we are already getting lazy and lazier (see my post: “When did Business Casual Become Backyard Casual?”) I don’t relate to how as a society we are getting so lazy that we can’t even use full words or sentences anymore, but let’s save that discussion for another day.
My issue with millennial slang, and let’s note that it isn’t just millennials using it, but society as a whole has started to adopt it, is that I don’t feel that it is appropriate for ALL ages. Let’s take for example “AF.” It is an acronym that can be found on apparel, coffee mugs, and even on my Yahoo home page in my news feed, just to name a few places.
As a parent, I try not to peruse the internet with my young ones looking over my shoulder. I still try to protect my young children from what they are watching on television and in movies, what song lyrics they are listening to that are appropriate at their age, as well as what words are acceptable in our home. Our home isn’t rated for mature audiences quite yet. In places like stores, I do my best to re-direct them from merchandise that will lead us to an uncomfortable conversation, but when people are on the street, in a grocery store or at community events wearing apparel with the “AF” on it, I can’t always control what my children are seeing.
The other day while grocery shopping, my youngest saw a lady wearing a shirt that had AF on it and she asked me, “Mom, what does AF mean?” I scrambled for a moment and the best thing I could come up with was “Always Funny! That person’s shirt means she is funny all of the time!” (Lucky me. She bought it… for now.)
Her question did get me thinking. What does AF really mean? When referring to the acronym ‘AF”, the “A” stands for “As” and the “F”, well you know, “F*ck.”
The F-word (which is described as “vulgar slang” when you google the dictionary meaning) can mean: to have, or the act of: sexual intercourse. It can also mean to ruin or damage, and when used alone or as a noun or verb in various phrases to express annoyance, contempt, or impatience. (Source: Oxford Dictionary)
Let me break it down for you a bit further. Again, from the Oxford Dictionary.
The word Annoyance means: The feeling or state of being annoyed; irritation. A thing that annoys someone; a nuisance.
Contempt is defined as: The feeling that a person or a thing is worthless or beneath consideration. Disregard for something that should be considered. The offense of being disobedient to or disrespectful of a court of law and its officers.
And Impatience is: The tendency to be impatient; irritability or restlessness.
So, this got me thinking, if you have AF on a sign, a shirt, a headline, are you telling the world that you are: Sexual intercourse? A nuisance? Disobedient? Impatient??
If you wear a shirt around the holidays that says you are “Jolly AF” are you possibly telling me you are as “cheerful as sexual intercourse?” Or maybe you are “happy to damage?” (Sounds weird, I know. But refer back to the definitions above.)
When you sport that new Halloween tee that you purchased through a crafting website that says “Spooky AF” are you telling those who see you in it that you are potentially “ghostly beneath consideration?” Or that you are “sinister yet expressing annoyance?”
What about the parent who is wearing something that says “Mom AF” (or Dad AF)? Are you possibly “one’s mother (or father) who has disregard for something that should be considered?” (Ah, what the what?)
Here’s one. What about “Feminist AF?” Is this an oxymoron? So in one breath we are for equality of the sexes, (feminist) yet we will use the f-word with it. Does that blur lines back to us viewing woman as sexual objects? (Look up the word “Male Gaze” when you have time.)
Is your man “Savage AF” meaning he is “uninhabitable and in a state of being annoyed?”
Maybe you are “Engaged AF”… you know, you formally agreed to marry someone yet there is irritability and restlessness? Maybe not the best way to kick of an engagement.
I could go on, and on, but you get the idea. I am not an authority on the English language, and the English Language IS a growing collection of words. Is it me, or did nobody stop and think this slang through?? When you pick it a part, it doesn’t sound too intelligent. Also, do people not think before they put on a shirt or post a sign or advertisement that young eyes and ears are everywhere? And before you assume that my standards are too high or I am too “whatever” (fill in the blank), I myself own some shirts that have sayings on them that are not kid appropriate. I choose to not wear them around my children or in places where I will run into children. I save them for when I am in an adult setting. I also feel that though they may seem inappropriate for some ages, they AT LEAST make sense in what they say, unlike some of the AF slang I just described.
If you are a parent, (an aunt, uncle, grandparent, etc.), how do handle unavoidable slang and acronyms that aren’t suitable for young children? You can reply in the comments section below or join the discussion on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/JoinTheDiscussionCoffeeConversationTransformation/