Does the Word ‘Twerk’ Even Mean Anything Anymore?

Don’t get me wrong, I love it when we add new words to the common vernacular. I’m thrilled to hear “hella” and “swag” take their rightful place in everyday conversation. I welcome the use of hashtags for emphasis, even in professional settings. But lately, I’ve seen the word twerk thrown around so casually, and I think we need to stop and reevaluate what is important to us. It used to be that twerking meant something.

It was exciting, it was cool, it was a form of self-expression. But that was a simpler time: a time when Miley Cyrus jokes were still vaguely not terrible and when we hadn’t yet seen the world get excited about a group of mature adults taking a picture of themselves on live TV. Sadly, it seems like those golden days are in the past.

Nowadays, the word ‘twerk’ is everywhere. Its official induction into the Oxford English Dictionary was just the beginning of the end. Once it became a legitimate part of the English language, twerking started to inspire think pieces and conversation. For Christ’s sake, a Google search for “Bill O’Reilly on twerking” yields 13.3 million results. There are 13.3 million web pages out there with a link between a Fox News political commentator and a word once reserved for Timbaland songs and incoherently worded tweets. Is nothing sacred anymore?

And the thing that scares me the most is that it could happen to anything. It used to be that we saved discussions of twerking for drunken cheers and the occasional Vine, but now it’s everywhere. What is happening to this nation? All I’m really saying is that I’m worried. Who knows what word we’ll ruin next? All we can do is hope for the future, and hold tight to the sanctity of “bae.”

Originally published April 2014

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