WTF Are We Saying: Tech Edition

Mar 10 at 10am

Much like any booming industry, the growth of the tech sector has birthed all new jargon and fine mutations of more common expressions. In the early years of tech there was plenty of word play (ask your weird uncle what "ping me" means), but the new era of tech-savvy millennials and complete symbiosis with handheld devices has brought what would be industry jargon into ubiquity. The 1990s saw "touch base" and "circle back" become popular vernacular, whereas 2014 witnesses the everyday use of "crowd-sourced" and "bandwidth."

The problem, however, is that very few people could probably explain these words accurately. These phrases get used and abused, taking on whatever meaning the user desires. Suddenly subletting your apartment makes you "entrepreneurial," showing your dad how to set up a Genius Bar appointment makes you "tech-savvy," and "hacker" is just a code word for nerds who like EDM. If I had a Bitcoin for every misuse of tech terms I've seen, I could buy my very own Google bus.

As far as I can tell, there are three basic demographics who (mis)interpret tech terms:

  • My parents – the terribly disconnected, though well-meaning.
  • My friends – the hobbyists, who define the terms with animated GIFs and well-timed memes.
  • Me – the tech worker, or related folks who daily use this jargon to impress their managers.

Innovation

What I think it is
Working until midnight every Thursday to find a way to not work Fridays.

What my parents think it is
Space travel and robot doctors.

What my friends think it is
My contempt for their Luddite lives.

Disrupt

What I think it is 
Challenging the accepted ideas and finding new ways of doing things.

What my parents think it is
When I call them after 6 p.m.

What my friends think it is
A word I use to make sitting at a desk 10 hours a day posting memes on Reddit sound sexy.

Hack

What I think it is
Finding a clever way to bend or break the rules of a system.

What my parents think it is
The sound my dad makes every morning from 50 years of smoking. (Don't smoke cigarettes, kids.)

What my friends think it is
Doing some overly simplistic task to gain access to their private information, selling that information to Google or the NSA, then making out with Angelina Jolie in a pool.

Hackathon

What I think it is
Hanging with a bunch of folks, trying to build something fun or good.

What my parents think it is
An event at a lumberjack competition.

What my friends think it is
A safe place for techies to count their money and figure out what neighborhood to gentrify next.

Life Hacking

What I think it is
Drinking protein shakes, taking vitamins, and sometimes cutting in line at the bar.

What my parents think it is
Something about the guy who only works four hours a week.

What my friends think it is
White, male privilege.

IPO

What I think it is
Stock in a publicly traded company and the chance at a steady job with benefits. 

What my parents think it is
A chance to see the $5K they loaned me 11 years ago returned.

What my friends think it is
Some guys stealing money from the elderly to write me a check for millions of dollars that I don't deserve.

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