Care and Feeding

My 16-Year-Old Showed Me His Texts. I Am Speechless.

Half of these aren’t words I’m familiar with. The other half makes no sense.

A woman in a striped sweater looking at a smartphone in confusion.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Prostock-Studio/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

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Dear Care and Feeding,

The other day, I was in the bathroom when I noticed my 16-year-old son’s cellphone in there. I’ve done that, so after washing and drying my hands, I found him in his room and gave the phone back. While I was about it, though, he got a text, which looked complete gibberish to me.

I asked him about it, and Kevin laughed and said that it would take a long time to explain, that it was an inside joke with some of his friends. It’s been a long time since I was a teen, but I remember that sort of evasion, and after asking about it some more, he still wouldn’t explain, but forwarded me a log of the texts because it wasn’t a big deal, just “a laugh,” in his words.

I’ve looked over the log twice now and my initial impression of this being gibberish has only intensified. I’ll share three of the texts as samples, but they’re all equally incomprehensible.

“Why do you leftypol Carnymancers soi the Royal turnip”

“Considering the hyperperfusonality of the Sodent Anes we require a Meatspin immediately”

“Yesssssssss snotspill with the Samojed pilpvl hair”

Half of these aren’t words I’m familiar with. The other half makes no sense. I’m somewhat comforted by Kevin treating the whole thing like a joke and showing it to me immediately, but he is still being evasive about it all. Mostly I just wanted an outside opinion to check if this is something weird and important or something weird and unimportant.

—Say What

Dear SW,

Unless there is an entire secret language that these kids have, in which some of these particular words are a substitute for something malicious or violent, it sounds like this is just some playful gibberish. After some Googling, some terms do pop up: “Leftypol” is a left-wing message board that started out on 8chan; “carnymancer” might be some kind of obscure fantasy character; and “meatspin” likely refers to a shock pornographic video that went around online. That said, it doesn’t necessarily mean your son participates on 8chan or is using hate speech; I’d chalk it up to being a teenage boy talking to other teenage boys.

As always, remain mindful of what your kid is consuming online, what sorts of themes and topics seem to get him riled up, and what kind of buddies he’s hanging with. Keep up whatever you’re doing now, where he feels comfortable sharing with you. But at the moment, I can’t find evidence of something for you to be worried about. My vote is for “weird and unimportant.” And if there are some worrisome web meanings for those other terms, certainly someone will educate us in the comments.

—Jamilah

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