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Social media: if you aren’t a part of it, you’ve at least heard of it. Half the world already seems to be there, sharing pictures of their salads and talking about their kids. If you want to get in on the action, there are a few things you should probably know. Luckily for you, we’ve translated some social media-related terms. Take a look.


You can’t just go on the internet, start posting things and call it social media. The first thing you need to do is set up a few social media accounts on different platforms. A platform is basically a big hub that people use to share and connect on the internet. Each platform has its own theme and rules, so choosing which one to sign up for will depend on the type of experience you want. If you just want to talk to your friends, a Reddit account may not be for you. If you really enjoy showing people what you had for lunch, you may want to opt for Instagram instead of Twitter.

But don’t worry. We’ve broken them all down so you can figure out exactly where you belong online.


Remember your third grade English teacher? What about your best friend’s second cousin from high school? Well, having an account on Facebook is all about pretending to still know these people. Originally intended to be a one stop shop for everything “friend” related, it’s now turned into an entire internet experience, full of activities like videos, games and shopping. If you aren’t careful, you’ll never leave!


Much like some surreal stream of consciousness novel by Virginia Woolf, Twitter is all about letting the world know exactly what you’re thinking, right at the very second you’re thinking it. After a few years of business, Twitter realized that the genius of human creativity could not be contained in a mere 140 characters, so they recently increased the character count to 280. Share sports updates, news, connect to likeminded individuals and retweet to your hearts content.


Basically Twitter, but mostly for pictures. Oh, and it’s owned by Facebook.


If Twitter and Instagram got together, invested in some property and had a kid, that kid would be Tumblr.

TV shows, sports, flower crowns, you name it, someone is posting about it. Pick who you want to follow and see their content appear on your “dashboard” for your daily enjoyment.  Don’t refresh the page, though, because scrolling back down to where you left off is a special kind of internet nightmare.


Designed to let you share whatever you consider news at the moment, people are then encouraged to give your post a thumbs up or a thumbs down, depending on how they feel. The posts with the most thumbs up get on the “front page.” It’s a little like what the front page of the New York Times would look like if everything was decided using a popularity contest.


Like Instagram, but the pictures only last a few seconds and only your friends can see them. This is a good place to share those less than attractive selfies or pictures from events you may not want to remember the next day. And pet pictures, but let’s be honest, we share those everywhere on the internet.


Once your mom got the hang of Facebook, this was the next social media experience she set her sights on. Easy to use and understand, Pinterest is all about “pinning” (saving) articles and pictures to virtual boards so you can check them out later. Whether it’s gift ideas for the holidays, images designed to inspire or recipes you’ve always wanted to try, you can create a separate board for anything you can think of. And you’ve got to admit, the name is pretty clever.


Admit it. You’ve always known you were meant to be a star. YouTube is the perfect place to fulfill those dreams you’ve had since childhood. Anyone with access to a camera can upload videos and share them with the entire internet community. You probably shouldn’t read the comments. Actually, never read the comments.

If being a sharer isn’t really your speed, YouTube is still a great place to find videos of anything you can think of. Want to see the Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show? It’s there. Looking for an in-depth breakdown of the newest summer blockbuster? You’ll find twenty. Creative people are everywhere on the internet and they’re more than happy to share with anyone willing to listen.


So, you’ve made your accounts and you’re ready to start posting, but then you get on the platform and are immediately bombarded with words you’ve never heard before. Well, the internet has its own language, and social media is no different. Here are a few of the terms you’ll most likely come in contact with during your social media exploration.


This one stands for “laugh out loud,” but it isn’t just for times where you actually laugh out loud. This acronym is really all about letting people know something is funny. It’s also great for avoiding ruined friendships. Sarcasm doesn’t translate through text, so a well-placed “LOL” can ensure nobody’s feelings get hurt.


What started out as a way to show people what you’re feeling, emojis have evolved into little pictures of pretty much anything you can think of. Street signs, people dancing, a thumbs up or anything else even somewhat related to an emotion.


You usually don’t use your real name on social media. Considering your boss, your mom or anyone else you know could find out exactly what you do or say, that decision makes sense. Nobody in the real world needs to know about how funny you think dogs dressed up like doctors are. To solve this, you have a handle, which is another name for a username. It’s the nickname you come up with so the people in the “dogs dressed as doctors” fan group have something to call you.


Memes. These can seem more confusing than a surrealist painting if you don’t know what you’re looking at. The reason they seem like another language is that they rely on a basic understanding of the overall theme for each meme and you have to experience it enough before you get it. Memes will always be a combination of a picture and a caption. Think about “I can has cheezeburgers?” Someone posted a picture of a fat, happy cat and added the weird caption. It implied that the cat spoke in that strange, truncated voice and it went from there. Everyone understood that the caption was the cat’s voice, and hundreds of pictures of cats doing things with funny sentences followed. Memes always have themes. Is that why they rhyme? No, but it should be. And remember, if at first you don’t understand, by the fifth meme, you’ll get it. Or you’ll just start laughing because the repetition has broken you.


If you want to let people know that you like their post, you “like” it. This sends the user a notification. The more likes a post has, the happier the person is. Unless the post is a few years old, then they’re most likely just annoyed they keep getting notifications about it.


A hashtag, known to an older generation as the pound, is the easiest way to join a social media conversation or to let people know what you’re talking about. Companies, brands, movies and television shows will usually have a sponsored hashtag they put out to encourage conversation around their specific topics. They’re also a great way to sift through content to find things that are more relevant to your interests. Want to hear more about dogs dressed like doctors? Find a hashtag and search for it. There you go – more dog doctors than you’ll know what to do with.


A picture you take of yourself, because your friends don’t know your angles.

This is by no means a complete list of everything you’ll need to know about social media, but it’s a start. Much like jumping into the pool, sometimes you just need to get your feet a little wet before you’re ready to go all in. So get out there and start connecting – it’s a fun world online after all!

Have any social media translations of your own? Share them in the comments.

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