Tag Archives: internet culture


AP is a 20-year-old student from Austin, Texas. She is very internet savvy and speaks extensively in cultural and internet references. 


AP-A word I use all of the time in different contexts is ‘slay’. I started saying it when it became a trend on TikTok and I use it to this day even though the trend has kinda died. I use it in every context because, well, everything is just so slay like, how could I not call it slay? Everything is slay to me. Every time I say slay I mean it in like an endearing almost cheering on kind of way, like oh girl you go slay that, or this is gonna slay. It’s just something that’s good or exciting or just has a light-hearted carefree vibe. 

ANALYSIS: The definition of the word slay means to strike and kill, but has evolved to hold a brand new meaning to modern youth and Queer culture. The popularity of the word slay in the modern context comes primarily from LGBTQ culture and speaking habits. At some point, people began using slay to signify excellence. Instead of saying an artist ‘killed’ their performance, they ‘slayed’ their performance. Terms like ‘slay’ and ‘yass’ stem from the ball subculture, and have been used there for decades. But these terms have been coined as ‘internet words’, and are used by many people outside of the LGBTQ community with no knowledge of their origin. There are mixed feelings about the increased use of Queer terms outside of the community. It signifies an improvement in LGBTQ acceptance culturally, with more people being open and interested in Queer language. It shows that LGBTQ culture no longer has to hide and has its place in the culture mainstream. However, the Queer community is often ignored as being the originators of these terms, instead with people crediting Tiktok or Twitter. The terms have become appropriated, and are barely even connected back to Queer culture anymore. Slay is a perfect example of the interesting phenomenon that we are facing, an exterior acceptance of Queer culture while erasing the culture’s proper history.  

Gamer Culture: Pwned

Context: When you’re playing competitive online games, one of the most important things to learn is how to most effectively show off to the enemy. You won’t always have the time to curse them out or otherwise eloquently explain your skill to them. For this reason, different kinds of slang have been adapted to meet the needs of competitive gamers. From this, we get the gamer slang “pwn.”

Main Piece: To “pwn” someone is to, essentially, annihilate them, destroy them, or otherwise completely defeat them when it wasn’t even close. Similar slang would be “curb-stomping” or “bitch slapping.” The gist is that gamers need more ways to tell people how bad they were beaten as a part of the psychological warfare of gaming. If somebody gets angry, or “tilts,” they’ll play worse, and if they’re angry enough, they might even quit! Pwning became the go-to affirmation of dominance in gaming lobbies for much of the mid-2000s because of both its simplicity and its meme status. Informant GG shares his account of his origins in Counter Strike, a competitive first person shooter game. 


GG: I first heard [pwned] (pronounced p-owned) in 2003; I was playing Counter Strike with my buddies, and one of them just goes “pwned!” and I said “what?” and he said “pistol owned!… so owned is like to dominate someone or to make someone your bitch using your skill, and pistol is like how we whipped out the pistol and shot a guy…” I don’t know the exact origins of it, but I’ve seen it everywhere from YouTube to memes, it’s all over the place.

Example of a meme using the term “pwned”, from KnowYourMeme.com

Thoughts: In gaming culture, defeating a rival is a moment of great pride that one may be too excited to put into eloquent words. It is for this reason that I believe “pwn” arose from a need to accurately describe the feeling of dominance over an opponent, regardless of it’s roots as either a keystroke error (because p is next to o on the QWERTY keyboard) or as a combination of pistol and own. From GG’s perspective it certainly makes sense that killing an opponent with your pistol, a relatively weak weapon compared to rifles and machine guns, would warrant pwning, but the folklore aspect of pwning is more through why people used it and less of how they began to use it. In the mid-2000s, pwned became apart of internet meme culture because of its applicability to other scenarios. Anytime that something goes catastrophically wrong for someone, they’ve been pwned (See Know Your Meme). Using the term pwn also includes you in apart of the culture of the internet. Therefore, I believe that people used pwned primarily because of its attached feelings of dominance as well as its inclusion in internet culture. 

Annotation: Pwned photo from Know Your Meme https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/owned-pwned