I was listening to a couple of younger people talk not long ago and I heard a term that wasn’t particularly new to me, but in the context in which it was said, got me a little perturbed. I’ll get to the term later. There was nothing particularly bad about the word itself. It’s a word with a suffix and it makes a noun into a verb. There is nothing wrong about nouns or verbs, and folks have been turning nouns into verbs as long as I can remember. Nouns are perfectly fine parts of speech. Verbs are as well. Adverbs, interjections and participles that dangle have their own places in the world, but that’s another column altogether.
As mentioned above, folks have been creating verbs using nouns for a long time. A lot of these generate from nouns that serve double duty as verbs, so it makes it pretty easy. Run is both a noun and a verb, so when you slap an “-ing” on the end of it, it solidifies its place in grammar as a verb. You can do this with drive, walk, fish, and a host of other words. You really can’t do it with others. Putting three letters on the end of a word like, let’s say, dinosaur, does not instantly make a verb. I don’t know of any instance where someone would be “dinosauring,” but my wife told me she could and made a growling face and noise and raised her hands like claws. Good try, but still not a verb.
This brings me to the word in question, the very word that makes this columnist cringe: Adulting.
This word is so prevalent in our culture now that it has been accepted as a genuine usable term. It’s not. It never has been and shouldn’t ever be. It’s a cute and clever buzzword that has no grammatical merit whatsoever. I have heard 30-somethings use it and it, quite frankly, gets on my nerves. Why does it get on my nerves, you ask? Well, besides the fact that it sounds pretty gooney, it takes something that the generations before these people take pretty seriously and reduces it to a trendy little gimmick, a hobby, and a trivial pursuit. It’s none of those. When you are of a certain age, you are an adult. This requires you to have adult responsibilities and adult behaviors all the time. It is not something you can switch off and on. A lot of us have worked hard as adults and don’t appreciate it when we see someone on social media claim to be “adulting” because they managed to buy a carton of milk without supervision. I have been grocery shopping since I was a kid and I never thought of it as trendy.
Now, I’m going to take a minute for all of you 20- and 30-somethings to put down your Starbucks cups and take a deep breath. If you have a safe space, that’s probably where you need to be right now. Take a deep breath. And another one. Count to 10. Count to 20. It doesn’t really matter, because as much as you think I am a blowhard, you know I am right. Just like your parents, whom you currently disagree with on pretty much every topic under the sun. You’re sitting there thinking that this old man is out of touch and doesn’t understand how folks talk nowadays.
I do understand. If I didn’t understand, I would be walking around saying everything was “boss” and “groovy.” I don’t have an issue with changes in language. I don’t have problems with slang. I have a problem with folks thinking maturity is something you can exercise on a whim. I have an issue with a whole generation that has become so dependent on others that they cannot do a simple thing for themselves and, when they do, reduce it to a trendy buzzword.
Folks, being an adult is not for the faint of heart. Some of us have been doing it a little longer than you and we take it pretty seriously. You’ll understand when you’re a little older and not so smart.
Baltimore native Joe Weaver is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.