15 English Words Warped by the Web

Man happily saying "It went VIRAL?!!"
Remember when "viral" was a bad thing and "cookies" were good? Here are 15 words that the internet warped.

Every new stage in history brings with it its own technological innovations. And, as everyone who has ever taken an anthropology class knows: technological innovations bring with them linguistic changes.  Indeed, the phenomenon is prominent today. Here’s how the internet has changed the English language.

Our current stage of history is clearly marked by a plethora of technological innovations, the most notable probably being the internet. And, as would be expected, the existence of the internet strongly influences the way we use certain words in the English language.

15 ways the internet has changed the English language

In this article, we will look at common English words whose connotations are shockingly different offline than their online derivatives.

Today it’s so common to use negative words in a positive fashion and vice-versa, that we don’t even realize when we’re doing it. Well, that’s about to change.

Here are 8 words that have dramatically different connotations online vs offline.

1) Fishing (Phishing)

How the internet has changed the English language - fishing

Offline: Fishing is a family activity that creates positive memories to last a lifetime.

Online: Phishing is a devious and illegal activity leading to identity theft and trauma.

2) Web

How the internet has changed the English language - web

Offline: Webs are annoying to clean and make haunted houses even scarier. If an insect gets caught in a web it is sure to die a horrible death.

Online: The web is where literally everything online happens.

3) Viral

How the internet has changed the English language - viral

Offline: If something you have is going viral, your friends will not like if you share it with them.

Online: If something you have is going viral, your friends WILL like if you share it with them. And THEIR friends will like it too. And THEIR friends’ friends will also like it…

4) Angels

How the internet has changed the English language - angels

Offline: Angels are purely spiritual beings that help you by Divine command and have no selfish motives.

Online: Angels are humans that may decide to help you if they think doing so will benefit their businesses.

5) Traffic

How the internet has changed the English language - traffic offline vs traffic online

Offline: Traffic means you’re going to be late to work and will have to make up the hours, resulting in stress and loss.

Online: Traffic means you can sit back while consumers purchase stuff through your website without you having to lift a finger, resulting in contentment and profit.

5) Buzz

How the internet has changed the English language - buzz

Offline: Rodents creating a buzz are liable to get smacked.

Online: Media agencies creating a buzz are liable to get more business.

6) Disruptive

How the internet has changed the English language - Disruptive online vs disruptive offline

Offline: “Disruptive” means everything was going according to plan and then someone jumped into the limelight and it made everything worse.

Online: “Disruptive” means everything was going according to plan and then someone jumped into the limelight and made everything even better.

7) Start Up

How the internet has changed the English language - start(ing)up offline vs startup online

Offline – To start up means to mess with someone in a way that gets on their nerves so much it redefines your relationship.

Online – A startup messes with the market in a way that disrupts business so much that it redefines the market.

8) Space

How the internet has changed the English language - space

Offline: Space is the third dimension. By definition it’s physical. SomeTHING must be physical in order for it to take up SPACE.

Online: Space requires no dimension at all to exist. It’s non-physical. It is as if online there exists a virtual space-time continuum (which is, if you think about it, completely oxymoronic).

9) Cookies

How the internet has changed the English language - cookies

Online: A cookie is a packet of data stored on your computer that communicates information about you to a particular website.

Offline: A cookie comes in a packet to be stored in your cupboard for snack time.

10) Hacker

How the internet has changed the English language - hacker

Offline: A hacker haphazardly uses the tools at his disposal to chop into a physical object such as a tree or a victim’s body in order to cut it into pieces.

Online: A hacker meticulously uses the tools at his disposal to chop past virtual walls in order to access information illegally.

11) SPAM

How the internet has changed the English language - spam

Offline: Cheap food that most people refuse to consume.

Online: Cheap content that most people refuse to consume.

12) Thread

How the internet has changed the English language - Thread online vs thread offline

13) Every Emoji Ever

How the internet has changed the English language - hieroglyphics offline vs online

Apparently, we’ve returned to using hieroglyphics to express our thoughts ideas and feelings. How quaint.

14) #

How the internet has changed the English language - # Online vs # Offline

15) Onion

How the internet has changed the English language - onion

Offline: An onion is a staple veggie used by everyone. When you cut into it everyone knows.

Online: Onion is a browser used by only a handful of individuals to discreetly access the “dark web.” When you cut into it, no one knows, because communications through the Onion browser are virtually untraceable.

Runners-up

Still not sure whether the internet has changed the English language?

Here are a few more words that where also warped by the web: “catfish,” “cloud,” and “handle.”

Can you think of anything else that should be added to the list? Over to you.