A recent report issued by researchers at Beloit College, highlighted a shocking cultural disparity in America. The concerning divide was not found between religious or racial sets, but between everyday Parents and their Teenage Children. It seems that a technological revolution has sheared a rift between the way in which today’s teens interact with the world, and the way in which their parents do.
It’s not at all shocking to acknowledge that most teens know little about the prominent cultural or historical events that shaped their own parent’s adolescence. It is concerning to say the least, however, that most parents today know little about the digital world that is shaping their own kid’s adolescence. According to Professor Tom McBride, today’s teens can’t write in cursive, most have never used a phone with a cord on it, and few have ever used a stamp. While most of today’s parents didn’t send an email until they were in college, today’s teenagers already view email as an obsolete technology; a relic of the digital age at its infancy. Though we parents were alive and conscious during this time period, a dynamic cultural shift took place without barely a blip on our radar.
Breaking The Code: Know Your Abbreviations
LOL and OMG are easy because each letter stands for a word. Usually, if you read an abbreviation in context with the conversation, you can quickly reason out the longhand form. 4COL, means “For Crying Out Loud”, B4YKI, means “Before You Know It.” (Always try this technique first.)
These circumstances not only highlight some major differences in the mediums that today’s teens use to interact, but also expose a major change in the way that young people communicate. Most of today’s teens claim that email is too slow. And while instant messaging is faster, its just not fast enough. It was against this backdrop of next-gen technology and social necessity, that digital shorthand was developed. Very rapidly, there evolved an entirely new language for digi-savy teens to use with one another. In today’s digital shorthand dictionary, numbers and symbols have replaced letters and words. This code is no longer limited to simple abbreviations, such as LOL, but includes artistic representations, such as \%/, meaning cocktail, or @:-||, meaning headache.
Not only are most parents inexperienced with the mediums in which their children are communicating, but they are unfamiliar with the language that their kids are using to communicate. With the average teen sending and receiving over 50 texts a day, there’s a lot of information being exchanged in what may as well be a vacuum. Parents never hear it, they rarely see it, and when they do notice it, they don’t understand it.
The drive for parents, and to those who find themselves in the position to help educate parents, is to actively bridge this divide. It is now essential to become versed in these new mediums, and to develop literacy in this new language. Never before, has the information streaming into our kid’s heads been so unfiltered. Never before, has the number and manner of their social connections been more diverse. Never before, has it been more important for parents to take a hint from their children’s generation, and learn a new skill.
Breaking The Code: Know Your Numbers
Numbers are often used because they either look or sound like a certain letter:
- 1 stands for L because it looks like an L
- 3 stands for E because it looks and sounds like an E
- 7 stands for T because it looks like a T
- 2 stands for U because is sounds like a U
For example, 182 means “I Hate U”. The 1 looks like an “I”, the 8 sounds like “ate” and the 2 sounds like “you”.
Tools like the Teen Chat Decoder, can be a significant part of this action plan. It is a website which provides an easily searched database of popular chat abbreviations. If you run into crazy looking number combinations or symbols, visit noslang.com. If you still don’t find what you are looking for, just put quotes around the symbol or abbreviation, and enter it into a google search. The answer should be revealed.
Breaking The Code: Know Your Symbols
Symbols use a combination of characters to produce a hieroglyph. <3, uses a symbol and number to create a heart, or say "I love you". @ usually means "at", but it can also represent a head, as in @8K for "headache".
In addition, it is suggested that parents actively engage their own kids via text as well. Make sure you get your screentime. Cool tips and sample messages can be found at our Text This resource page. Finally, never be afraid to ask your child what it is that they’re typing back and forth. What you learn could truly surprise you.
Many people enter organizations or endeavors with the fairytale belief that the merit of their cause, or the strength of their efforts, is enough to accomplish their goals. While both of these attributes are worthy, their ultimate value may prove to be disappointing.This is particularly true if those goals include some type of change.
The truth is, neither resolve nor hard work can accomplish much without influence. Absent influence, an idea is as impotent and unbinding as a figment of your imagination. Influence is the leverage that converts ideas into action. Unfortunately, no amount of reason, or even popularity, can serve as a substitute. Influence is a prerequisite to change. This can be a hard pill for some to swallow, particularly if you are among the young, the passionate or the self-reliant. I know this first hand, as I have myself evolved through each of these categories.
“The cultivation of influence is an essential investment, for it can make effortless, what would otherwise be impossible.” – Author’s Note
Influence is an asset that persuades compliance via obligation or association. It is an executive-level tool that sways decisions, opens doors and facilitates connections. For most, it comes by way of their professional, political or social status, and is derived through their control over relevant people or resources. Influence can also be obtained vicariously, through the leverage of friends or acquaintances who hold influential positions. Finally, influence can be bartered through the use of favors, gifts or services. Regardless of how it is obtained, the key question we must all ask ourselves is, “How can I obtain the influence I need to accomplish my (or my organization’s) goal.”
This critical question should be asked as early as possible, and needs to become an integral aspect of any action plan. In fact, the cultivation of influence should become the key component of any efforts you undertake. To some, this may seem to be an indirect, counter-intuitive, or maybe even disingenuous way of accomplishing a goal. But I encourage you to think otherwise. The fact is, the accumulation of influence is an investment that will ultimately enable you to accomplish far more, while exerting far less.
The leverage of influence is the cornerstone of the American political system. It is the lifeblood of most executive-level professional dealings. It is a key component of most corporate business deals and, if you’ve had trouble accomplishing your goals, it is probably the missing ingredient in your strategy.
Though hard work and resolve may ultimately bring your goals within reach, a lack of influence will impose terrific consequences upon your efforts. You will work twice as hard. It will take twice as long. You’ll use twice as many resources and you’ll make twice as much noise. All of these negative circumstances have opportunity costs for you or your organization. Exhaustion, frustration and tempestuous interactions are likely to accompany your hard-fought progress. Along the way, good ideas will be lost and meaningful projects will go incomplete.
For some of you, these few paragraphs will have offered nothing new or exciting. I also know, however, that some of you have just experienced a revelation of thought. I was one of you. The concept of influence did not come naturally to me. It took a long time for me to accept it, and I often wonder what could have been, had I done so sooner.
The challenge for all of us is to continually evaluate and improve our efforts. We must identify what’s working and what’s not, who’s succeeding where we aren’t, who’s getting more done with less effort, and who’s got it figured out if we don’t. Until you have it, a lack of influence will play a key role in each of these questions. We must never forfeit our values, our integrity or our self-respect. But we must never turn a blind eye to the importance of this omnipresent and universally effective asset.
Read Part II of This Article: Cultivating Influence by Timothy Shoemaker