Everybody gets to the point in their life where they realise common slang is beyond their realm of coolness.

Mere weeks before my thirtieth birthday, I've just reached that point.

Bored and flying solo for the night, last Friday I texted a few friends to see if I could convince anybody to change out of their PJs to come and drink wine with me. Two out of five friends texted back, "Nah, we're just gonna Netflix and chill".

After my initial disappointment I accepted it was still cold and wintery. Who wouldn't want to spread out on the couch and binge on all ten episodes of Narcos? Fat pants are notoriously hard to get out of, after all.

Advertisement

On Monday, the phrase "Netflix and chill" appeared in my Facebook feed three times in one day. Curiously, I googled it, wondering if it was some brilliant marketing campaign by the streaming TV giant.

To my surprise, "Netflix and chill" has nothing to do with watching TV in your PJs. It's about getting someone else to take your PJs off. That's right: "Netflix and chill" is common slang for "staying in to have sex".

If the above sentence has left you with a mind blown, consider yourself in safe company. "Netflix and chill"? As a verb? WTF?

The realisation I'm no longer cool enough to understand common slang has both positives and negatives. On the downside, a lot of internet memes are lost on me. It took me about two years to understand that YOLO was not a frozen yoghurt blend. When I hear teenagers say something was "off the chain", I feel like a dinosaur.

On the upside, slang does nothing but harm to the already-poor state of the modern English language, and to not understand it means I can no longer contribute to a less intelligible world.

Let's put this into context. Ten years ago I was a university student and I - like every other puffer jacket-wearing 19-year-old in New Zealand - was all about "dropping it like it's hot" with my "peeps".

We'd put on our bling-bling and drink pimp juice, and get jiggy in da club 'cause we thought we were hella cool. We had gigs that paid minimal moolah but it didn't matter, they got us our sick rides. We passed our exams like a boss, but our parental units still dissed us for being so chillaxed. But fo shizzle, my nizzle, we had ridonkulous swag, didn't we? Hell to the yes we did.

Reading that bastardisation of English now makes me wonder what I was smoking back in 2005. But all of those words I legitimately uttered on a regular basis back then, just like everybody else my age. The use of any and all of those phrases was inescapable - they were everywhere from MTV videos to conservative South Island universities.

Thankfully I - and the rest of the world - moved on from a vocabulary of slang largely concocted by hip-hop stars. Celebrities with golden grills on their teeth no longer propagate today's common vernacular. Seems like an age ago, doesn't it?

Ten years later, a decade after Facebook launched the social media revolution into its next stages, slang is more grassroots. It comes from the people, spread via their social media posts, and is so veiled by ambiguity it's impossible to decipher unless you're part of a youth that speaks only in 160-character tweets and dreams through Instagram filters.

So here I am, almost 30 years old, realising I'm not one of the cool kids anymore because I don't speak their lingo. Despite acknowledging how inane and unintelligent slang can be, however, I'm submit to a strange paradox whereby I somehow feel stupid for not understanding it.

Whether that's the by-product of slang, or its intention, I'm unsure. Slang exists to create a sense of community. It is exclusive; a lexicon that only you - and people like you - are supposed to understand. For that reason "Netflix and chill" is popular amongst teenagers because it's a seemingly harmless phrase that won't give you away when intercepted by others (say, parents).

Slang has always conveyed a sense of inimitability. It distinguishes members of a group from the majority. This is perhaps why it would have been disarming to hear middle-class white kids using uniquely African-American phrasing in the early 2000s. But that's what commercialisation does to culture. Blame Nelly and Snoop Dogg, not us.

However, slang today is driven by internet communities, not actual communities, so the fact I don't understand common slang isn't a sign I'm not allowed into right groups anymore. It's a sign I'm choosing not to be part of them.

I'm okay with that. Now entering my fourth decade, I've realised life is more important than what Mean Girls taught me a decade ago.

I guess that means I should finally stop trying to make "fetch" happen.

Life & Style blogger Lee Suckling recently found out the true meaning of the phrase 'Netflix and chill'. It doesn't mean watch TV in your PJs. He wonders how old is too old to use common slang?

Posted by Herald Life on Tuesday, 1 September 2015