Imagine walking in on this conversation:
“And then I dropped my Hydro Flask.”
“And I oop.”
You might be confused, especially if you’re over the age of 18 and don’t spend much time in the same social media circles as high schoolers.
“Sksksksk” has become the rallying cry of VSCO girls across the land. VSCO girls, of course, are the latest iteration of a Cool Teen Girl. Largely white and affluent, VSCO girls wear T-shirts as dresses, have scrunchies on their wrists, and wear Birkenstocks on their feet. She wants to save the turtles and loves shopping at Brandy Melville, and if you go to your local mall, you might spot one.
“Sksksksk” is a phrase that’s mostly typed, sort of like mashing your keyboard as an exclamation. It can stand in for laughter, or express awkwardness, or be the same as an “OMG.” It’s sort of like saying “I can’t even” if it were still 2013.
As far as keyboard mashes go, it’s a good one. When typing on a phone keyboard, your thumbs naturally rest as “s” and “k,” making a good sksksksksksk string effortless.
Verbally, you’re more likely to hear “sksksksksk” out loud (tip: start to say “sky,” but drop the “y,” and repeat) from someone mocking VSCO girls. Like most things teen girls like and do, VSCO girls are often mocked.
But sksksksk didn’t start with VSCO girls. Like most slang, their favorite phrase originated in the black community, although it has since been co-opted by other groups as well.
Before VSCO girls were even a thing, sksksksk was also associated with the “stan community.” That term, “stan,” comes from the Eminem song of the same name, about an obsessive fan.
A stan is someone who devotedly, purely, unironically loves something. It’s often applied to musicians and celebrities, like being an Ariana Grande or Harry Styles stan, or a stan of K-pop groups like BTS.
This has all even sparked a small (but not entirely serious) rivalry.
There’s surely overlap between VSCO girls and stan culture, being that teen girls populate both groups. But they also have something else in common: appropriating language from black communities.
Stan Twitter is also known for using phrases like “spill the tea,” “throw shade,” or “snatched.” It often goes unacknowledged outside black communities, but all those phrases come from black women and black LGBT culture, specifically the ball scene. Even “stan” itself is rooted in black language.
VSCO girls use this language too, but their appropriation cycle is even faster. After sksksksk, the phrase most commonly associated with VSCO girls is “and I oop.” That comes from Jasmine Masters, a drag queen who competed on Season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 4.
She’s also known for her humorous vlogs on YouTube, which is how the “and I oop” meme was born. In a 2015 video, she accidentally hit her testicles and paused mid sentence with an “oop.”
But back to sksksksk.
Aside from VSCO girls and stan Twitter, sksksksk is also associated with gay men, a group whose language, again, is often taken from black communities.
So, you’ll be unsurprised to know that if you go back far enough on Twitter, sksksk has early mentions by black Americans, although stan Twitter wasn’t far behind.
But even before that, sksksksk was a popular phrase from Portuguese-speaking Twitter users in Brazil. It’s unclear how those Brazilian origins influenced the current trend, but of course there are Afro-Brazilians and stans who live in Brazil.
The answer is likely that “sksksksk” evolved through multiple channels. But, in any case, it all goes to show that just because a piece of slang seems new, that doesn’t mean it actually is.