When the Digital World Meets IRL

Hey, Bryce here again, and for what will pretty much be my last blog for my Study in Grammar and Linguistics class, I decided to talk about the merging of the digital world and the “real world”. Now, you may be thinking, whatever could you mean by that, Bryce? Merging? Between the internet and real life? How could that be possible? To clarify some, I am not talking about the use of CGI in movies, or the totally awesome Virtual Reality headset for video games, or anything like that. What I’m talking about is how we’ve taken concepts from the digital world (like texting and social media sites) and sort of . . . brought them into the real world.

Take emojis, for example. You know, the tiny little and very expressive faces—or silly symbols—that helps set the tone or enhances your message. They’re no longer confined to an app on your phone. Just take a look at this guy:

Poop emoji figurine

Yep, that is indeed a little poop emoji figurine. And that’s not all. There are a multitude of examples of emojis come to life: as clothes, keychains, toys, plushies, you name it. And yeah, part of it is marketability. I think it’s safe to say that stores will turn anything they can into a product to make money. But therein lies the quite explicit implication that not only are people willing to buy emoji products, but that emojis themselves are popular enough to actually become a marketable product. Just think about it: something originally created for use in the digital world has grown enough to come into the real world as a tangible object.

Emojis weren’t the first things to traverse the two worlds, of course. Many video games have had toys fashioned after their characters. But in my opinion, there’s a bit of a difference between the two. One could argue that a feature of video games is their “sellability”, you could say. Video games themselves are already a product that are available for purchase to customers, while emojis are (at least the basic ones) a free app you can download on your phone or something that comes with the keyboard. I would also argue that their places in the digital world are different; while many video games have online multiplayer accessibility, they still tend to be grouped as a solo activity while things like texting and social media sites tend to be grouped in the Internet category because of the connection to others.

But I think I’m starting to get off target here. More examples of the merging of the digital and real worlds exist. For your entertainment, feel free to watch this video featuring a skit from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. And yes, while this is a satire about Twitter conversations, I feel that if this skit was tweaked just a bit, it could be a satire about verbal conversations instead. I’m pretty much the farthest thing from being a social butterfly, but I’m around people my age often enough (thanks pretty much solely to college, I’m not kidding) to have heard some people say the word “hashtag” in an actual conversation. Whether they were using it unironically or not I would not be able to tell you, but the fact remains that there are people who use internel lingo. Heck, I’ll even admit that I’ve said a few words or phrases that come from internet memes or trending tumblr posts. And my brother uses the tumblr popular word “fam” like it’s going out of style.

And if you think internet slang is confined only to social media sites or conversations, then you’d be wrong. I present Exhibit A!:

Source: hhtp://www.zam.com/article/228/hustle-cat-review-impressions

This screencap is from a game called Hustle Cat, but all I’ll say about it is that the girl (her name is Finley) has powers that are tied to the internet because she’s a YouTube celebrity. Now, where do you think the influence for her powers came from? Hmm, I wonder. But Bryce, you say, of course a PC game marketed toward people well-versed in the internet would include internet slang and memes. All right then, how about Exhibit B:


This scene from Lego Batman, which is aimed at young children, uses a popular internet term, “ship”, which basically means you pair two characters romantically. The pairing is a ship, and if you support it, you’re a shipper. And keep in mind that every animated movie has hidden jokes that appeals to older generations, which means that the creators believed that enough people would be “in the know” to get the joke, or hint, or whatever.

The point of all this? Well, there isn’t one, really. I just think it’s something to consider, something to look for the next time you’re out shopping and see something from online, the next time you read a book and notice that one character that always has an internet reference ready. And what about the future? Will the next generation use internet slang even more than this one? Will our verbal patterns of speech slowly start to resemble those on the internet? Or will it just be something done for fun? Let me know what you think.


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