Technology and social media have given us many new words for the English language, because new situations and new behaviours need words to describe them.
Often those words emerge from combining an idea that is familiar with a new initial letter, to link it to the new context – a few years ago it seemed that you could make up convoluted references to just about anything concerning Twitter by sticking the letters TW in front of a word of your choice: tweeps, twitterrazzi, twittebrity, twitterature, feel free to have a go yourself if the mood takes you – don’t overdo it or you might damage your Tweet cred. But you can see how well it works… it’s like a quick shorthand that doesn’t need explaining, people can just sort out the meaning instantly for themselves.
To a somewhat lesser extent the same thing has happened with Facebook, whose adoption is far wider than Twitter – but perhaps not being constrained to 140 characters has made it less of a thing, there being less need to make up abbreviations to convey information quickly. Whilst Faceaholics might need the occasional Facation to detox themselves, one of very few which has gained serious currency particularly amongst younger users is the word ‘Fraped’ – which means when someone accesses your Facebook account to show you up, such as posting a stupid status update apparently from you.
This word has been in use online now and it’s clear what it’s meaning is supposed to be. Indeed, no-one can deny that having your account hijacked in this way – because you left your phone lying around at a party or your browser logged in – has the potential to cause shame, embarrassment and even major upset.
No one could possibly suggest however that it on anything like a par with serious sexual assault. To use this term is to mock and deride what has happened to those who have been victims of one of the worst crimes imaginable, by comparing the experience of rape with something embarrassing and funny on Facebook. It’s simply not OK.
Recently I have started to hear younger people use the word in conversation offline, people who in a way I hope have no grasp of the meaning of the words origins… But whose speech is contributing to a watering down of the whole idea of what consent to sex means, for a generation being raised one click away from top-shelf porn and with access to instant communications from predatory adults – I know I am not the only parent who is terrified by this,
So I am proud to be spearheading the campaign to ditch the word ‘Frape’ completely.
It is dangerous to confuse and dilute the meaning of the word rape with something on social media, but the phenomenon it currently describes is real enough, and needs terminology. The word suggested is ‘Facejacked’ – this describes just fine the idea of being temporarily the butt of a joke when you are shown-up online.
If it hasn’t happened to you yet just be careful where you leave your phone or share your computer with, especially if you have kids. Because one day one of them will realise you have left yourself logged in to Facebook and proceed to post a status updating your network on your latest bathroom activity, what colour underwear you are wearing or how much you enjoy picking your nose – or far worse if they are older – and you will be furious, embarrassed, and madly trying to find where you can delete it (hover over the down arrow in grey to the top-right of that particular status post, you can do it in less than a second).
But then post yourself and tell your friends that you have been FACEJACKED, not Fraped – so ignore that last thing on your timeline if they saw it, because it was your 11 year old not you, and they just got their TV and Xbox privileges revoked for a fortnight as a result.
Languages change and evolve all the time, and we can do our part in changing it. If you are grown-up enough to understand what the word rape means in all its horror as a violent crime and tool of oppression, then don’t let its use be trivialised to mean something on Facebook.
If you hear people using the word Fraped in conversation on or offline, how about intervening and suggesting they use Facejacked instead?
Please share this article, particularly if you have friends and family in the social media generation, who may be accustomed to chucking words around lightly – just share it to your Facebook timeline, tweet it, or pass it on any way that makes sense for you. And if you have contacts with any journalists, bloggers, broadcasters or otherwise influential people who might be persuaded to get behind this campaign for change, please send them the link or point them my way (@casslar)
If you share it online, please use the hashtag #facejackednotfraped, so that we can follow the sharing online and amplify it between us – for this to gain the necessary traction it will take a lot of effort, but its well worth doing. Behaviour and society are shaped by the word we use, and we need to take control and start shaping those words ourselves now.
Costa Connected, for Costa Blanca News, February 14th 2014 ©Maya Middlemiss, Casslar Consulting SL