The 'Get-It' Gap

Netflix and Chill: It sounded innocent enough: a night of curling up on the couch in a Snuggie, with no plan other than some "Orange is the New Black" and Häagen Dazs binging.

And that’s how it started out: innocent. Then those damned kids got hold of it, and its present meaning ended up in a place quite removed from its origin.

Unfortunately, my wife didn’t know that when she used the phrase in a Facebook post for her gift basket company.  That is, until one of our daughters walked in the door. Before her bags hit the floor, she yelled from the entryway, “Mom, you have to change your post -- right now!”

“What post?”

“The Netflix and Chill one.”


“Unless your basket contains lubricants and condoms, I don’t think your post means what you think it means.”

But how is a middle-aged parent to know? The subversion of this particular phrase  just happened in the last year.



It takes me the better part of a year to remember that it’s no longer 2015 when I sign a check.  There’s no way a middle-aged brain could possibly keep up with the ongoing bastardization of the English language. The threshold for “getting it” keeps getting higher, driven by the acceleration of memes through social media.

Parents were never intended to “get it.” That’s the whole point. Kids want to speak their own language and have their own cultural reference points. We were no different when we were kids, and neither were our parents.

And kids always “get it.”  It’s like a rite of passage. Memes propagate through social networks, and when you’re 18, your social network is the most important thing in your life.

Part of belonging to this culture depends on “getting it.” The faster things spread, the more likely it is that you can increase the “get-it” gap between you and your parents. It’s a control thing. If parents call all the shots about everything in your life, at least you can have this one thing to call your own.

As you start to gain control, the gap becomes less important. Our daughters are now becoming adults, so they now act as “get it” translators -- and, in cases like the one above, Urban Slang enforcement officers. When we transgress, they attempt to bridge the gap.

As you get older, the “stuff” of life gets in the way of continuing to “get it.” Buying a house, getting a job and changing diapers leaves little time left over to Snapchat about Scumbag Steve or tweet “Hell yea finna get crunk!” to your Hommie gee funk-a-nator on a Friday night.

The danger comes when parents unilaterally try to cross over the gap to tap into the zeitgeist of urban slang. This move is always doomed to failure. There are no exceptions.  It’s like tiptoeing through a minefield with snowshoes on.

At the very least, run something past your kids before you post anything.  Better yet, look it up in Urban Dictionary. Kids can’t be trusted.

“Hotchkiss – Ouuuttt!” (Mic drop here.)

2 comments about "The 'Get-It' Gap".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, January 27, 2016 at 10:44 a.m.

    I learned the same lesson when I used an older meaning for "hook up with your friends" when my high-schoolers were back in middle school. Also, someone at the Urban Dictionary has a gutter mind, so even the most benign word can have a rotten connotation. Look what happened here:

  2. Brett c Mccarty from Big Rocks Marketing Cooperative, January 27, 2016 at 9:36 p.m.

    Thank you for this!  My 16 year old tells me every morning that I "don't know pop culture."  And then he refused to educate me.  Thanks for the giggle.

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