TLAs and FLAs
Posted On April 28, 2023
Today’s Keepin’ it Real – the language of insiders.
I made a short statement the other day and my son immediately replied, “That’s cap.” C A P. Cap. I’m unsure what it means. It’s either “that’s the gospel truth” or “that’s a boldface lie.” I thought about it for a moment and decided I didn’t want to know.
For centuries generations have used hairstyles, vocabulary, music and clothing to separate themselves from adults just like my kids are doing today. We called things “cool” or “grody” or “sick.” Today my kids use Cap and ‘lit’. When I say someone was ‘lit’ it means they were very overserved. With the kids today, ‘lit’ means cool or fun or hip or exciting. There’s a part of me that wants to adopt this language to try to stay young. There’s a bigger part of me that says stay away.
My daughter and her friends use the word ‘like’ as an opening quotation mark. For example: “She said like I didn’t do it and I immediately said like it was you. I saw you. And then she said like, Well, that’s cap.” And again, I’m clueless.
The stay-at-home women in my part of town have starting using the expression “all the things.” It means just so much of everything. “I’ve got so many chores and errands and the kids need me and you know, all the things.” All the things. Listen for it. It will be coming from a SUV driver in yoga tights.
Sociologists have studied that shared words and, specifically, acronyms self-identify people as part of an in-crowd. At a financial services conference I was amazed by the overflow of TLAs and FLAs. Attendees bandied them back and forth to say to each other, “I am an insider” and to remind outsiders like me that I’m an outsider. Financial services love their TLAs, and when find a tidy TLA won’t do, they go to FLAs. Three letter acronyms and four letter acronyms, by the way.
In a conference call a few weeks ago I was immediately told through the use of insider language that I was an outsider. It was a passive aggressive masterpiece. The TLAs and FLAs numbered in the dozens. The guy leading the call was letting me know he’s my alpha. It wasn’t like he was a silverback gorilla standing on a rock and beating his chest to declare his dominance but it was very much like a silverback gorilla standing on a rock and beathing his chest to declare his dominance.
The evangelicals have an insider language, too. This may offend some of them, but you’ll recognize the use of the word ‘just’ in your prayers. “Father God, just just wrap us in your love and just heal our hearts with your manifest of greatness and just feed us with the bounty of your loving kindness as we just work to serve your steadfast love and just just keep your son in front of our eyes…” I stop listening and start counting. I can’t help it. And I’m pretty sure if the universe’s editor in chief were to speak to us he’d say ‘what’s with all the justs? The reason I don’t answer your prayers is I lose focus counting.’
I’m Cam Marston and I’m JUST JUST JUST just trying to Keep it Real. And all the things.