Every decade has its own language. In the 1920s, flapper became famous. In the 1960s, things were far out and cool and if you were broke, you wanted to make some bread. In the 1980s, everything was grody to the max.
But it recently struck me by how many buzzwords the first decade of the 21st century has brought us, either invented words or words that have just really caught on. I'm sure they won't all be around ten or 20 years from now, but there are quite a few I have a feeling are here to stay.
At first glance, it may not seem like any of this matters to your wallet, but obviously how up-to-date you are can reflect on your job and career when you're talking to clients or colleagues or your boss. Will you lose your job or a big deal because you don't have some of the 21st lingo down? Almost certainly not. Might you be inspired to start a new business because you're more in tune with changes going on in our world? You might. Might it give you an edge at your job? Again, it might.
So just for fun, I thought I'd whip out a 10 question quiz -- and I know I haven't included every new phrase the 21st century has brought us -- so we can all see how up-to-date we are. (Answers at the bottom) And, yes, some of these will probably be very easy -- but I bet some aren't.1. Greenwashing:
a) describes an environmentally friendly way of washing one's car.
b) describes companies that make their product or service sound environmentally-friendly, but they over exaggerate.
c) describes toxic pollutants that cause rivers to turn a dark green color.
2. Helicopter parents:
a) are parents who swoop in and help their adult children out of every difficult situation
b) are Baby Boomers who want to give their children everything, no matter how ridiculous (think: helicopters)
c) are parents who feel that they're above it all; snobs.
a) one who mostly eats like a vegetarian but allows themselves to eat meat
b) someone who enjoys having it both ways; two-faced.
c) a person who has overextended their credit.
4. Stimulus check:
a) a check sent by the government, in the hopes that the public will spend money and stimulate the economy
b) the type of check that causes your bank account to go over into overdraft
c) slang for people who have an embarrassing picture crop up on Facebook, stimulating a bad conclusion (i.e., getting fired from a job)
a) a military term coined in Iraq and Afghanistan with a combined meaning of "stay where you are" and "caution."
b) a term used for people who decide not to go on a vacation and just stay home
c) follow-up hit song by the 80s group, "The Go-Go's"
6. Peer-to-peer lending:
a) a teenage anti-drug problem, in which one teen mentors or "lends" their values to an at-risk teen
b) refers to how a sexually transmitted disease can be easily transferred from one person to another
c) term popularized by online sites in which ordinary people can lend money to ordinary people
7. Environmental footprint:
a) derogatory slang meant to insult Al Gore's shoe size
b) usually used in reference to limiting one's damage on the environment
c) the environmental legacy Generation Y hopes to leave to their grandchildren
a) slang used to refer to children in your neighborhood who seem extremely excitable or hyper
b) usually thought of as news coverage of community-level events overlooked by bigger media outlets
c) software application utilized in local community centers
a) the ability to walk when heavily intoxicated
b) a marketing term referring to the ease that an advertisement carries a message to the masses
c) a neighborhood that is easily accessible by sidewalks, an important concept in an era of high gas prices
a) something that seems so true, it must be true
b) the ability to fib while seeming to be telling the truth
c) the ominous feeling one gets that you're being lied to
Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale). The answers to the quiz are: 1) b; 2) a; 3) a; 4) a; 5) b; 6) c; 7) b; 8) b; 9) c; 10) a
WalletPop quiz: Do you know your 21st century buzzwords?