The flight of the jejemon

12:00:00 AM

This is how jejemons fly.
I originally posted this photo in my old Tumblr account with the same caption, and a day after I did, I got an angry email from a Filipino teenager who's absolutely addicted to Korean boy bands. He said, and I quote, "This is not jejemon, okay? It's an island in Korea!" (For the record, I know this is a Korean airline. The jejemon thing is a private joke.)

To the unaware, Wikipedia defines jejemon as a popular culture phenomenon in the Philippines, while Urban Dictionary describes a jejemon as a person who has managed to subvert the English language to the point of incomprehensibility. It's believed to have started because of the onslaught of text messaging - the 160-character limit forced users to shorten their words.

But after a while, jejemons stopped conserving character space and actually started adding unnecessary letters and other symbols to their words. I hate it! I have cousins who text like this and I can't understand a word. They replace the letter E with the number 3, S with 5, and so on. They also put the letter H where it shouldn't be, usually more than once.

This is a tragic commentary on our times. Sorry, I know I sound like a holier-than-thou prick, but for a brief time I was a teacher, and it bothers me that young people have become like this. I was young once, too, and I don't remember ever being so... I don't even know how to describe it. Rebellious, maybe? I mean, I rebelled against authority, but not against language.

I ranted about it to my friend, musician Aya Yuson, and he told me that we are actually witnessing the evolution of language. He even said that people who are fluent in the jejemon language must be of above-average intelligence because it's a very complicated language system. I know it's a crazy idea, but I sort of agree with him.

But I guess the elitist in me just hopes these kids would use their intelligence for something more productive - anything other than the bastardization of language. Maybe the reason I hate this cultural phenomenon so much is because I'm a writer slash closeted grammar Nazi. I know this won't stop, so I guess I'll just try to not be bothered by it.


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