Simi Olurin ’19
It amazes me how our generation never ceases to come up with slang that I somehow never catch on to until it’s too late. Maybe it’s just me being out of touch or the fact that I’m a 60-year-old retiree in spirit, but either way, I have no idea what people my age are saying about half the time. On some level, it doesn’t really bother me at all, because I have NEVER felt the need to elaborate on a 13-year-old screaming “Yeet” in my face, or exclaiming that the kid who stubbed his toe and didn’t cry is “savage”, but sometimes it really does start to pester me.
I think the word that took me the longest to actually understand was “bagged”. I’m not saying it was hard to understand what it meant (a state of sadness of some sort), but it seems as though its meaning has changed immensely with time. And it could actually be the downfall of every young person that uses it.
People would say they have a “bag” playlist on Spotify, which essentially means that they have a compilation of sad songs they play when they are “in their bag”, meaning sad. Personally, this is something that I’ve never understood because it just seems like people play objectively depressing songs when they themselves are in a state of sadness to further drive themselves into a crevasse of emotions and pain. But, that’s neither here nor there.
No, it is not the playlist that I’m talking about, but rather the apparent threat to the mental health of youth that such a cavalier term poses. The term “bag” is slang, yes, but in it of itself, it gives teenagers a fun word to describe their moments of extreme sadness in such a way that seems like a joke but could sometimes be quite serious. The term makes it possible for kids to essentially brush off their feelings when they’re talking about it rather than telling someone that they’re just really sad, which is actually pretty dangerous. To some people, it may seem that their feelings or emotions don’t warrant actual sadness or attention from others, so they write them off by claiming that they’re just having a “bag” day (not a typo of “bad”). However, writing off your feelings so often can accustom people to bury their emotions deep down and never address them.
It’s also alarming how often I see the term “bag” used. People will say it out loud, sure, but it’s mostly on social media, especially with kids’ Finstas. The amount of times that I have seen someone claim that they’re in their bag or claim that it’s #bagszn is something that I initially wrote off, but the more I look at it the more I realize it’s actually problematic. First of all, people almost NEVER explain why they’re in their bag, even if you explicitly ASK them. I’m not just talking about social media. You can ask someone why they seem gloomy or low energy and their only explanation is that “they’re in their bag”. I feel like our generation has forgotten a simple fact: that’s not even close to an actual answer. The question was causation, not the result, which was evident from the beginning, hence why I even asked why you seemed down.
To break it down, when asked why they’re sad, people now respond, “I’m sad”.
Second, we have become so desensitized to the word due to overuse that people seem to use it for EVERY situation. From scuffing an expensive shoe to getting rejected from their dream school…these two things definitely do not warrant the same type of reaction, so why do they have the same phrase attached to them? At this point, it seems that one can never really know if it’s worth reaching out to someone who claims to be in their bag, because you’re just not really sure if they have a dirty shoe or utterly dashed dreams.
Essentially, young people seem to have created a word to hide from actual confrontation of their feelings, which is extremely unhealthy. I can’t say that I know where it comes from, but I do know that the defense mechanism is so strong that we’re actually altering our language in order to downplay our sadness.
It may seem like we’re “innovative” in our evolution of language, but it’s actually just breaking us down and making everyone sadder in apparent silence.