I blame it on LOL. You are probably thinking, “Poor LOL! How can anything be the fault of this happy, little, three letters?” This is why. When I think back to when I first noticed over-abbreviation of the English language, it seems to have started with this acronym. Sure. We had things like PS, TBD, ASAP, AWOL, and RSVP, but they were used for specific reasons and occasions. Even these abbreviations are over-used these days. For example, now, we not only have PS, but we have PPS and PPSS. Wow.
Back in the early 90’s, we were all happily typing out (and handwriting) whole words. Imagine the inefficiency! I kind of think of it as the time when we said what we meant without the chance for someone to misinterpret a clever abbreviation, but I’m old fashioned that way.
One day in 1994, I was looking through my email (Unix email with no pretty fonts or images and no annoying backgrounds with flowers or sunsets), and I started seeing LOL on many of the messages. Now, I will be the first one to admit that I have never been the coolest person in any room even when I was young, but I had no idea what this meant. I finally decided it meant “Lots of Love.” The karma in me thought, “Awwww, this is great that everyone is being so kind to one another.” My mistake was mentioning this to one of my co-workers. She looked at me in disbelief, and said, “Oh Diana, that means ‘Laugh Out Loud’!” Then she did LOL…
If you don’t believe me how things can go wrong with acronyms, just take a look at the first few definitions of BAE in the Urban Dictionary (www.urbandictionary.com). Apologies up front, but I’m paraphrasing due to the language used. The actual definitions will make you smile though:
- The Danish word for defecating, or short for babe or baby.
- An annoying way to say girlfriend, boyfriend, or crush used by idiots.
- Before Anyone Else
How can a one syllable word be short for a one syllable word? That is especially lazy. I pretty much agree with definition two, but, even if you know BAE as definition one or three, trouble can arise.
A friend of mine works for a large, global company. She said that one of her co-workers kept using FU on his emails to the team. The recipients weren’t sure whether to LMAO or respond with ;-0. Finally, a brave team member asked him why he kept saying this to the team, and he said, “What’s wrong with Follow Up?” True story.
The Miriam Webster dictionary has just added two thousand new words (loose term in this case) that reflect modern society. Included in this list is FOMO, Fear of Missing Out. The definition explains that even when someone is exhausted, FOMO will drive them to go to a big party or event. Hmmm. I think this has always been a feeling but now it has a name and a condition associated with it. Luckily, it is treatable. Stay home!
I have a few favorites to share. Some of these aren’t new, but they are widely over-used and sometimes ridiculous:
|FOBO||Fear of Better Options||This might just be a marketing term, since I heard it on a commercial. However, similar to one definition of BAE (Before Anyone Else), it defines a mindset that making a choice is limiting or that exclusivity is a bad thing in some way. My nineteen-year-old son says this is a common way of thinking among his generation. My response to him has been, “How do you know if you never commit?” That question gets a blank stare.|
|TMI||Too Much Information||I’m guessing we all say this from time to time. What ticks me off though is that when you tell someone “TMI” it rarely stops them from continuing to give you more.|
|RIP||Rest in Peace||RIP seems to be a “thing” these days. Perhaps it is because we have lost so many great celebrities that we want to post about in the cyber-ether. There was a time that it was mostly a Halloween phrase or something you might see in an old cemetery on Ichabod Crane’s headstone. Either is okay, but, when you see “RIP Dad…” I draw the line on appropriate use of this one. Just a little too cold and impersonal for those you know and love.|
|Convo||Conversation||Not exactly an acronym, but this is one of my favorites. Of course, everyone knows what it means, but it always makes me think of big rigs, CB radios, and BJ and the Bear. All of which, the people who use this term have no idea what I’m talking about.|
|IMHO||In My Honest Opinion||Really? Is there something called “In My Dishonest Opinion?” Do we really need this one?|
|OMG||Oh My God!||In the 80’s, we actually said the whole phrase with a lot of emotion and inflection. Now we just have three letters to make a statement. It seems like kind of a rip off to me.|
The list goes on, and it will undoubtedly get longer. My only request is that we “say what we mean” and “mean what we say” once in a while. As much as acronyms might save time, we will actually save time by cutting down on confusion and misinterpretation in many cases.
PS & BTW. IMHO a BAE w/TMI is an OMG Convo! 😉
PPS. I asked my son to give me feedback before I published this post. He responded, “ROFL. TBH…” I guessed the “To Be Honest” (which is not too far off from IMHO Alex), but I had no idea what ROFL was, so I asked him if it meant “Right On Funky Lady.” Of course, NOT! You probably know it means “Rolling On The Floor Laughing.” See what I mean?!