I grew up spell checking my diary entries. Words were my first love, so like a good girlfriend, I was obligated to know them inside and out. At a relatively young age, I familiarized with the smooth curves of the comma. I used the two dots of a colon to conceal gaping holes in my heart. Our relationship was like an M-dash, whatever that simile means.
But eventually, my love left me with nothing but a black iPhone 5s to cover all the bases — writing down ideas in Notes, sending dozens of emails a day, communicating on Facebook,
complaining tweeting — and suddenly it seemed there was no room left for grammar and punctuation. I was never too lazy to write intelligently, but somehow, the iPhone made my anal grammar tendencies feel oddly out of place.
Our texting abbreviations became contagious. So once I started getting sloppy on text, I found myself getting sloppy everywhere. And once I felt as familiar with Sloppy as I previously felt with my ex, Proper, strange shenanigans started to occur.
Typing formally when I needed to became incredibly disorienting. It felt so unfamiliar, that I had to make a super self-conscious effort to use periods and to avoid sounding like I was texting my best friend about this week’s constipation. I became overtaken by Overeager Typer’s Syndrome, something I believe many of you suffer from. OTS is triggered by certain situations, enumerated below:
The Babysitting Job
It usually goes a little something like this:
Young MILF: Hey, r u around 2 watch the girls on Sat ? . . ? LMK thx
Me: Hi! Yes! I’m around any time after 7! What time would you need me!? Let me know! Thanks!
Or, like this:
Young MILF: Hey, r u around 2 watch the girls on Sat ? . . ? And next fri? And how about that Sun as well? LMK thx
Me: Hi! I’m so sorry! I’m not around on Saturday! But I luckily will be around next Friday! I’m not sure about Sunday, but can I let you know later this week? Let me know what time you need me! Thanks so much!
Do you sense the pattern?
Or shall I say, Do you sense the pattern!!!!!!!!!!!
Now, consider The Internship Email
This is a real email exchange between an editor and myself:
My name is Hannah Pasternak and I was referred to you by **** over at ****. Currently, I am a student at Brown University and am extremely interested in a summer editorial internship at ****.
As a previous college intern at **** herself, **** spoke very highly of ****’s program and the invaluable experience she obtained during her time there.
As I’m sure you can imagine, my email continued for a few more paragraphs just as fancy-shmancy. This was the response I received:
hi hannah, thanks for reaching out. i sent this along to the persons that handles intern stuff – if you hit me up in 2 weeks, if you haven’t heard anything, i’ll pass along our person’s email if that’s cool.
On a scale of Kate Middleton to Solange Knowles of how ridiculous I felt, it was very in the realm of Solange.
I’ve spoken to other people who have this problem too — we’re so used to our girlfriends misinterpreting our texts, knit-picking every word to try and sniff out a hint of anger, that we feel the need to walk on ice around those superior to us. Everyone from the MILFs down the block to potential employers.
I always get this feeling of stupidity when I realize how formal I sound. But at the same time, I don’t want to seem immature or unprofessional by typing with that ol’ millennial jargon.
When my mom drives, she dictates texts for me to type out on her phone. I used to get so nervous whenever she insisted I use a period to end a single-sentence text, because I thought she’d sound mean and the woman on the receiving end would get mad. My mom thought I was ridiculous.
The best remedy for Overeager Typer’s Syndrome? Get the vaccine before it even starts. A text is just a text. Make it a mantra.
My life has ebbed and flown on the shores of “photogenic.” When I was a toddler, I knew how to work it.
And no, we weren’t tacky enough to go to one of those baby-modeling places in the mall to have my preschool head-shots taken and my models skills exercised.
Time passed. I gained some weight, got some mini-boobs, and like many of life’s greatest moments, my ability to look good in pictures faded, too.
As I shed the baby chub (keeping some spare, of course), got rid of my braces, and settled into an outward style I was ready to permanently claim, I felt myself becoming photogenic again. Ok, maybe that’s pushing it. I don’t think I’m photogenic, and yes, my peak was in the terrible two’s, but I figured out how to make myself look as good as possible on film. Left side, chin tilted down, eyes straight, shoulder forward, cheeks defined.
And that’s just the upper half of my body. Don’t get me started on the lower — it’s still a work in progress.
Looking good for the camera is a recipe, and everyone has their own.
In my case, the rebirth of my photo-readiness happened around the same time everyone signed up for Facebook. Facebook meant pictures. Pictures meant muploads. Muploads meant Blackberries. And you know where it goes from here…
We all can agree that the iPhone is the ‘cool aunt’ of the selfie. Am I right?
The selfie helps us non-genetically photogenic folks to become photogenic. I mean, taking a good selfie is all trial and error. You’re bound to look good in one out of the hundred, so ya might as well take the hundred.
Over the last year, us ladies (and perhaps the fellas, too) have gotten our selfie faces to a tee. And now that we’ve gotten so good at looking a-ok in selfies, we’re getting even better at looking good in pictures. Selfies have fooled us all. They’re just a dress rehearsal for the real thing — the one and done. (Because everyone hates the girl who takes a million flash photos in a dark room, drawing way too much attention from judgmental onlookers.)
As the iPhone birthed the selfie, the selfie birthed a face. The selfie face has spread like the bubonic plague, but amongst the wealthy rather than the poor, and incites less physical illness and more mental illness (because these girls are bat-shit crazy). You know what I’m talking about:
Chin up. Smizing*. Head tilted. And most importantly of all: mouth closed.
Every girl on my Facebook newsfeed, selfie’d or not, dons this face like a sex appeal trophy. “I’m hot because I can make this face and look cool doing it, so start liking my Instagram photos and maybe we can chill sometime.”
After numerous failed attempts at trying to convey my betchiness by adapting the selfie pose, I realized it simply would never, ever be for me.
It makes my head look like a potato, my nose look too pointy, my eyes too squinty… and not in the cute, smizing way.
I can’t be the only one who looks ridiculous trying to make a face I know is unflattering, when I’m well aware of how to look my best. So why are we all trying to do it? What about a facial expression can make us look that cool?
Do we look more fun because we can smile a certain way? Well, is it fun to look less happy? And why no teeth? Don’t make your mothers regret the thousands of dollars they spent on braces.
My boyfriend always asks me why I smile with my mouth closed. “Let me see some teeth,” he says. Or, “Let’s see a real smile.” I don’t think he’s alone, here.
Cool can be expressed in a multitude of ways. So can someone puh-lease explain to me how a facial expression is one of them?
*Smizing: smiling with your eyes. It’s a look to master.
In eighth grade, someone wrote in my Facebook Honesty Box (yeah, remember that? #tbt) that I was a dirty hippie who was completely obsessed with myself. In fact, I was neither of the two, but if I had to choose one I obviously would have chosen the first.
Honesty Box quickly faded. And when it did, Formspring was there to replace it. For years, we’ve been obsessed with watching a Burn Book come to life. The entertainment of watching or hearing people not get along gives us a guilty satisfaction. Not that we actually feel guilty, of course. But we should.
A few weeks ago, I started hearing talk of a new app called “Yik Yak.” The first time I saw it on an iPhone screen, I assumed it would never become a “thing.” But hearing of it once turned into twice, and then into thrice, and suddenly it was as if every boy associated with SAM, AEPi, or ZBT was knee deep in some yak. I hadn’t seen a human that drenched in gossip since elementary school.
I wanted to write about Yik Yak, but wasn’t quite sure what angle I should choose to take. I have a love/hate relationship with it, and I don’t “yak” myself (though I do read my feed). So we decided to do something special. I got my guy friend high out of his mind and then interviwed him about Yik Yak. He is the perfect target for Yik Yak: college age, in a fraternity, semi-bro. Loves the Yak.
Without further ado, here’s what you need to know about the new, anonymous shit-talking app from a true user: (He passed out two minutes after the interview.)
The FYD: Just speak. Speak about Yik Yak.
Baked Friend: Yik Yak is a great company. It’s so simple. It’s so simple. Everybody uses it, it’s very trendy, there’s a lot of gossip. There’s a lot of… uh… there’s also a lot of funny shit.
What’s the difference between the gossip and the funny shit?
Everybody just makes fun of frats. They call frats out that… uh… I don’t know they just call… they just call…
You didn’t answer the question.
What’s the question?
What’s the difference between the gossip and the funny shit?
There could be jokes about girls… jokes about kids, like
Are the jokes about girls funny or gossip?
It’s not really gossip, it’s like a joke. A straight up joke. That’s why it’s funny. Then there’s frats rippin’ on each other. A lot of hating on Yik Yak. But I like it because if it got really interesting, kids were very smart about Yik Yak I guess. They liked it. Let’s say they were all, like, very competitive over Yik Yak. If they cared about it. If everyone saw it and everyone read it, it would be cool. If Yik Yak was, like, a school full of geniuses — not geniuses, like a bunch of people that really give a shit about Yik Yak — I wouldn’t even say this like “gave a shit.” I don’t know the word for it. Why are you writing everything I’m saying?
Because we’re having an interview. Do you think Yik Yak’s a good thing or a bad thing?
It’s gonna turn into a bad — umm [laughs] [laughs again because I wrote “laughs”]. It might be like. I wonder if it’s gonna be, uh, I wonder if it’s gonna be huge in five years. Or even two years. It’s hot right now.
Do you think Tinder’s still gonna be hot in two years?
Nah, nah. Definitely not.
Can you explain Yik Yak to me?
It’s an app for the school.
Can you elaborate?
Um… for the people. No, it’s not for the people.
And that’s all I got for you tonight, folks.
Seriously, though, it’s interesting to think about how bad something like Yik Yak not only makes the shit talkers look, but also how bad it makes those that get receive that entertainment look — scrolling down their feeds at the dinner table, while in line for the bathroom, sittin’ on the pot.
What I’ve learned most from Yik Yak is that people are much, much more perverted than I though. Perverted may not be the right word. Let’s go with “sexually opinionated.”
Have no fear, though. We musn’t forget that according to my friend, it’s “an app for the school.”