Guest Post: Dating by Malik Dating Yourself

Today I’m forced privileged to provide a guest post by the one, the only Malik, who is here to talk about dating your—

I got this, L. Marie. Who better than me to talk about dating? I mean, just look at me. Yeah, get a good look. If you’re wondering about the type of woman I prefer, get out your tablet, ’cause I have a long list. First—

Sorry, Malik, but this post isn’t working out. I didn’t want you to talk about that sort of dating. I wanted you to talk about dating yourself—showing you’re behind the times—by what you say or write. See, if you had just returned my texts, I could have explained it all to you. But thanks though. I’ll call you some other time if I need that guest post from you.

Well, now that Malik has left in a huff, I guess I’ll have to write this post myself. First, let me give you some background. This article features a tweet by a teen that caused dismay among millennials months ago. ( I just read the article last week.) For those of you who don’t feel like clicking on the article, basically the teen asked the Twitterverse how to burn a CD, a question that made many millennials feel old. (Welcome to my world.)

When was the last time you burned a CD? I can’t recall the last time I did. Well over a decade ago, certainly.

Days after I saw that, I watched this Buzzfeed video of some Gen Zers trying to identity celebrities from back in the 90s. I was shocked that no one knew Justin Timberlake. (Maybe they might recognize his voice from the 2016 movie Trolls.)

Why am I bringing that up? I was reminded of the need to keep in mind what the audience I’m writing for may or may not know. If you write for adults, maybe this is not a big deal to you. But I write stories for kids and teens who will let you know in a heartbeat when something is dated (at least in their eyes). The video and the article were wake-up calls. I’m reminded of idioms or activities I might have mentioned that someone born in this century might view as anachronistic.

Case in point. Years ago, a 1981 song, “Call Me,” sung by a group called Skyy, sparked a discussion after my niece and nephew heard it on Pandora (yes, Pandora) .

One of the lyrics goes like this: “Here’s my number and a dime, call me anytime.” My niece and nephew had no idea why a dime was needed for a call. Neither had ever used a pay phone, let alone seen one.

Nor had they seen one of these outside of an old television show.

Photo by Martha Moore.

Technology changes so rapidly these days. Even Pandora has felt the pinch. (Can you say Spotify?) This is one reason why I use technology names sparingly in stories, or I make up my own names. You never know when something is going to be outdated.

How about you? Is this issue of dated text something you care about? What do you do to avoid dating yourself?

P.S. Henry is very hurt that I asked Malik to write a guest post, however brief that experience was. He quickly reminded me of his good qualities. Like . . . the fact that he loves animals and has a cheerful outlook on life. So, I might have to have a guest post by Henry at some point.


Tiny phone photo by Martha Moore. Pay phone from Skyy album from CDs from OJustin Timberlake and his character, Branch, from DreamWorks Animation. Other photos by L. Marie. Malik is part of the Fresh Squad of dolls designed by Dr. Lisa Williams, founder of the World of EPI.

42 thoughts on “Guest Post: Dating by Malik Dating Yourself

  1. This is a tough issue to get around, especially if you’re choosing an older time period. You can get away with more when it’s very old like the 1800’s because kids kind of get that those times were different. I think 80’s and 90’s throw them just like the earlier 20th century decades threw us. Then again, tech does change almost on a monthly basis these days. That has to have an effect.

    • Historical fiction has its own challenges, so I wasn’t even thinking about that category when I wrote this post. I think about this subject because there are things I know about, as someone born in the previous century, that people born in this century might not know anything about, unless they research these topics as I do whenever I have to write an article.

      • This is probably why authors need to stay up to date on tech and society. People enjoy pouting out mistakes these days. Glad I don’t work with Earth. 😁

      • I hear you, Charles! I remember writing a science fiction novel thirteen years ago. Forecasting the technology leaps to come in the future was very daunting. One of my brothers bought me a subscription to a magazine put out by MIT. That really helped. But I let the subscription lapse and soon gave up writing that novel.

      • When I was a kid, I wanted to be James Blish, whose Star Trek novels I used to read. Then I wanted to be Madeleine L’Engle. Then I discovered Tolkien and felt at home.

  2. First of all, your way into this post was so funny! I loved it. And yeah, this is definitely a thing. Especially for someone like me, who was born decades before this century began. Even Nina LaCour, who is much younger than I am addressed this recently when I had a chance to hear her speak about her writing. She said in her most recent book, she’s placed her characters in an environment where there is no cell service so that she can have her characters relating to one another face to face instead of through tech that could change by the time the book comes out. I can also relate to this in terms of my upcoming novel. I had written that someone was “off the hook,” which in my time meant that you got out of trouble or got out of doing something you didn’t want to do. As in: “I already walked the dog, so you’re off the hook.” But today, off the hook means something completely different! As in: “Did you hear Kendrick’s new song? It’s off the hook.” Frankly, sometime it makes me wonder if it’s time for me to write for adults. But — for now at least — I’m much more interested in writing for adolescents and speaking to their experiences as I see them.

    • Thanks, Laura! And great point about the changing lingo. Like Gucci just mean the fashion brand back in the day. It’s different now. But sometimes, we simply can’t help what we write. Slang changes so fast.

      I love that Nina places her characters in such a way that they have to relate face to face. Brilliant. And people wonder why I like medieval fantasy. . . .

    • I got a sneak peek at your book, and the teens need you! I didn’t see anything at all that struck me as anachronistic, as you did a good job of not choosing the kind of slang that would date the story. Because it’s a double edged sword. Choose the most up-to-date usage of “off the hook” and it will change again within five years.

      • I totally agree with you, Lyn! That is so true. Some phrases from five years ago are now out.

        So glad you popped over to encourage Laura!

  3. You know the title can be take two ways: Introducing anachronistic material to young readers (your intention) OR exposing yourself to cultural stimulation. I have read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way in which she recommends visiting a cultural center, a festival, a tea shop – something you consider FUN, an Artist Date. (Yes, she capitalizes it!)

    Personally, I don’t have this problem because I’m writing memoir, which holds little interest for young readers. Thanks for sharing all this, even the roadblocks.

    BTW, it’s been eons since I have burned a disc – ha!

    • Marian, I love that advice by Julia Cameron. I think that would be a great Date! And I heartily advocate dating oneself. I took myself to the craft store and to lunch. A really fun date. 😀

  4. Malik is a trip! HA!
    Your friend, Lyn Miller-Lachmann uses dated scenes which actually help to define the times without stating – ‘In 1974, blah blah blah’ And the story unfolds effortlessly.
    If younger readers don’t know what it means to ‘stay by the phone waiting for a call’ I think in context it becomes self-explanatory.
    But point is, there’s a lot to field in this topic.
    One time at a writer’s group meeting a few years ago, there was a new younger member at critique. One of my pieces was a tongue in cheek piece about ‘Y2K’.
    He hadn’t a clue as to what that was, even when others explained to him about the weirdness of how no one understood how computers would ‘react’ to the turn over from the 1900’s to the 2000’s…etc.
    If I dated myself with Y2K, I’d say that’s more forgiving than dating myself with saying ‘icebox’ instead of ‘fridge’ (In all fairness, it was a word my folks always used so it was natural to pick it up as normal)

    • Thank you for your kind words, Laura! That scene in Surviving Santiago was inspired by a lecture I heard from the always-brilliant M.T. Anderson, who talked about rotary phones and how they can date your book, positively, in a work of historical fiction if it’s not just dropped in to mark the time and place but also contributes to the unfolding of the story. In that scene, my protagonist is using a rotary phone to make a call she’s not allowed to make, and the fact that the phone number has a lot of 9s and 0s means bigger chance of getting caught. (And she is caught.)

    • 😂 Some of my older relatives used the term icebox when I was a kid. I didn’t know what they meant. No matter what, there will always be someone younger who comes along and says, “I don’t get it.”

      Malik might return someday, Laura. But I have to give Henry his due.

  5. Looks like my comment above posted twice. Sorry! Anyway, great piece, L! It took a while for me to figure out the intro — sorry, Malik! But this is one of the fun parts of writing historical fiction, figuring out the slang of the time. Sometimes, though, the perfect word to describe something is an anachronism, like the word “bail” in my most recent novel. I could find no word (at least in English) with similar resonance for a character who constantly bailed when everyone counted on him.

    • I deleted one. No worries.
      Malik is not insulted that you found his intro weird. I’m glad for the feedback. He’s a little full of himself.

      I also like to write historical fiction and nonfiction. Though I would never write an entire novel, I have enjoyed writing nonfiction picture books set in the past

  6. It’s cheering to know that these poor young things who currently think they’re the bees’ knees (that’s a modern term, right?) will feel just as antiquated as I do one of these days… groovy! 😀

  7. I knew a snotty boy in high school who used to say “here’s a dime, call someone who cares.” It was his way of dismissing anything someone said that he didn’t care about. While I found it irritating at the time, now it’d be without any relevance… and this makes me feel old.

  8. Oh, boy, I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times I’ve assumed someone younger than me was familiar with a particular TV show, actor, singer, whatever, and I’ve gotten a blank look in response. And even adult readers will very quickly point out if your story has cell phones in use before their time. Sigh. I think the best thing is, like you said, to limit your use of technology and especially brand names. In my WIP my characters use cell phones but I don’t mention brands or types. I just try to keep it simple and under the radar 😉 And I’m looking forward to Henry’s guest post. You ushered Malik off just in time 😉

    • Yes, Malik needed to get the heave-ho. (And now that I think about it, “heave-ho” probably has a totally different meaning nowadays. Sigh.)

      At least with cable and YouTube some of these old shows and singers we might bring up can be found in old videos. So instead of them rolling their eyes, we can do what all parents have said, “Look it up!” (via Google).

  9. You often give me a good morning (or afternoon) chuckle, L. Marie – and you did morning as I read this. 🙂 As it so happens, our up north family is in this week (we’ve finally had Christmas 🙂 ) and just last night we had an interesting conversation with our Kezzie (soon to be 9) who looked at the land line phone when it rang, saw a long list of numbers and said “I don’t know what to do”.
    Actually, I don’t know what to do, either. We keep the phone but never use it!
    I don’t mind dated text, but, bear in mind that I AM DATED. 🙂

    • I’m so glad your family came to visit! How lovely to have Christmas at this time! Makes the winter less bleak (though it has been warmer). I hope your grandchildren are enjoying their visit!

      My parents have an old phone they keep for decoration. It looks like something out of an Audrey Hepburn movie. 😀

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