How To Speak User

In homage to my TC colleague Alex Wilhelm’s recent entrepreneurial lexis magnum opus, How To Speak Startup, I present its fantastical companion: How To Speak User.

Spend an above-average amount of time using digital services and the fabric of reality starts to resemble a curtain that can be pulled to and fro at will. Standing at the bleeding edge, gazing into the red-rimmed, bottomless abyss of disruption, the normal rules of language break down and a Dadaist imperative asserts fresh claims of absurdist relevance.

This article is an exercise in simultaneously mystifying and demystifying the lingua franca of digital life in order to encapsulate the chronically ironic state of being a user.

Enjoy. Or don’t.

user — a person whose individuality has been overwritten by line items on a business balance sheet

Uber — any business that routinely treats paying customers as users. Also shorthand for Ayn Rand. And a synonym for an online stalker

update — a pointless time-sink. Or the partial realization of a mythical state of nirvana

upgrade — an unnecessary expenditure. Or the partial realization of a mythical state of nirvana

auto-enhance — a double-barreled insult that insinuates a person’s digital appearance has been algorithmically enhanced and thus they are not only not that good looking IRL but also that they lack the post-processing skills to manually create a glamorous online feed of selfies. e.g. ‘my latest Tinder date is so auto-enhanced’

IRL — an impermanent state of being that takes place in a liminal, diminishing space. Sometimes referred to as the Lacan Real

offline — any experience that generates overwhelming feelings of zen-like calm. e.g. ‘my yoga class is so offline’

filter paralysis — terminal indecision experienced when attempting to determine which Instagram filter to apply to enhance your latest selfie — resulting in an inability to post your latest selfie. (See also: nofie)

nofie — when none of your selfies is acceptable for posting so you flip the camera and post what your face is looking at instead. (See also: lookie)

lookie — a photo of what your face is looking at, rather than a photo of your face. Distinct from a nofie owing to your active intention not to post a selfie — an especially ironic selfie

ughhhlie — a selfie that can’t be posted because auto-enhancement has failed

sickie — a selfie posted when you are feeling unwell in order to support a sick day petition with peer reviewable evidence. The act of taking a sickie also simultaneously sanctions ongoing activity on social media on your day off. Certain Instagram filters are preferred for enhancing the sickliness of a sickie

truthie — a selfie without any digital filters. Analogue make-up is acceptable

Vine — a short video clip posted when there are no more selfies left in your repertoire for posting that day

Tinder — a series of inescapable disappointments. e.g. ‘new House of Cards is totally Tinder’

Tinder whore — an individual who has lost the ability to commit to a decision. e.g. ‘we went to Chipotle but Steve was such a Tinder whore with the menu we had to order for him’

Google — an annoying friend who’s always turning up at your house, asking lots of nosy questions and rearranging your stuff without asking. Also a synonym for an online stalker

like button — a self-conscious amplifier, used to express strong positive feelings for something. e.g. ‘sick pants dude! I totally like button those!’. (See also: dislike button)

dislike button — an ironic self-conscious amplifier used to express strong negative feelings for something at the same time as delivering an equal and opposite undercurrent of irony. e.g. ‘I totally dislike button that you are dislike buttoning my dislike button GIF’. Intentionally confusing

Facebook — an annoying former friend who’s now just your flatmate but who still pretends you’re really close and when you go out sneaks into your room, goes through your stuff and rearranges your photographs. Also a synonym for an online stalker

newsfeed — any conversation that is too boring to recall. Often expressed as an interjection by others. e.g. ‘I was reading this great post the other day on Warrior Forum about the best ways to optimize your usage of –NEWSFEED!’.

Twitter storm — a public tirade masquerading as an exercise in Aristotelian logic

playlist — a conglomerate of noise whose individual units have zero rhyme and no reason to be housed together

public playlist — a conglomerate of noise whose individual units are selected to convey an impression of enhanced cultural sensibilities. Played infrequently

Klout score — something you don’t understand but keep forgetting to look up because you don’t care enough about it

wearable — something that becomes steadily unworn. Can also mean totally useless. e.g. ‘this app is so wearable’

troll — an insufferable bore. Can also refer to any right-wing economist who is especially active on Twitter. Should never be fed

eyeball — a biological receptor for advertising

mobile device — a non-biological receptor for advertising. Also an unwearable electronic tag that’s more wearable than a wearable. (See also: wearable)

sharing — commercially valuable activity performed without hope or expectation of payment. Also known as charitable giving. Sometimes represented in illustrated form as an individual caught between a large boulder and a very steep slope

data — something you helped to make that probably belongs to someone else

personal data — something that’s definitely yours but which probably belongs to someone else

data breach — something that may or may not be yours but which now definitely belongs to somebody else who may give it to everybody else

cloud — an insecure storage locker. Also a synonym for blanket surveillance

contactless — a digital transfer method that requires a pair of compatible objects to be brought into close contact with each other. Typically accompanied by a warning that overuse of this technology may result in skin rash. Can also refer to surrealist performance art

social — antisocial behavior that takes place online, typically expressed in the form of clamorous self-promotion. Social activities may include retweeting self-praise, posting #humblebrags, and repeat requests that followers purchase your latest ebook

spam — processed meat, typically wrapped in tin

stickers — an emergent language composed entirely of hieroglyphs. A Rosetta Stone has not yet been located to unlock the semantic mystery of stickers but we’re expecting Line to add ‘Line KeyStone’ to its platform to open up a lucrative revenue stream in future translation services

streaming — an acute sense of bandwidth despair

buffering — an impending sense of doom, momentarily suspended. Can also refer to drinking too much caffeine. e.g. ‘don’t talk to me; I have buffered way too much coffee this morning’

SoMoLo — the utterance of a loon

Spotify — an ex-lover who breaks into your house and smashes your stuff up

Twitter — any artifact of indeterminate purpose

Wikipedia fundraiser — an unwelcome but not unexpected event. e.g. ‘Marissa’s leaving drinks were a real Wikipedia fundraiser’

privacy policy — a great work of satire that you haven’t got round to reading yet but know you really, totally should

clickbait — a heightened sensation of delayed disappointment that you knew was coming. Oxymoronic

crowdfunding campaign — a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

anonymish — a fleeting sense of euphoria. Also a synonym for ‘a bit rubbish’

Bluetooth — anything that drains your battery really quick. e.g. ‘Taptalk is really Bluetoothing the life out of my devices’

Internet of Things — a mystical place filled with love, laughter and the ethereal music of the spheres. Also a synonym for The Panopticon

connected fridge — any device that no one wants or needs. e.g. ‘This new Windows Phone is literally a connected fridge’

Jelly — a thing that lacks vim

Secret — a free flowing outlet for discussions of a scatological nature

Scoble — the act of consuming anything to ludicrous excess. e.g. ‘help me; I can’t stop Scobling soylent’

early adopter — a lunatic. Or a futurist