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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

IDK, OMG LOL

If you don't understand the title, consider yourself saved from the texting language that has become a subculture among teens and pre-teens. It has spread across the wireless world like the wildfires that are filling our air with smoke.

The commercials even make fun of it, and in one of them Grandma is joining the fun of the shorthand language that kids are using. I'll be the first to admit that if I'm sending a text to my wife online or on my phone, I have been known to use a few of these acronyms; they're time savers and there is nothing wrong with that. However, it seems that the use of this acronym-filled world of texting has gone too far. There are now books that are written in the same shorthand language that kids use while texting. Aside from the huge step backwards in the progress of society, I find this to be an insult to the English teachers out there who are trying to help their students grow into intelligent adults who speak properly.

Back when the Internet was still pretty new, I tried out my chatting abilities and was amazed even back then at how much I didn't know. I entered a chat room and introduced myself and saw someone type "LOL" which means laughing out loud. I had no idea and I thought it may have been something like "loser online" and I was pretty discouraged until much later when i figured it out. Now, with the use of texting on phones and two-way pagers and devices like the T-Mobile Sidekick, the use of these acronyms has become an entire language. If you want to get an idea at just how extensive the usage of this shorthand has become, visit Netlingo.com. There are hundreds of acronyms that are used regularly and some that are not so common. Along with the words comes emoticons (icons that show emotions, like a happy face). There are many of those as well, and they are used by those who like to be a bit more visual when they talk.

The biggest problem with instant messaging (IM), either online or via text on a phone, is that you never know if the person on the other end is being serious or sarcastic. Tone of voice is impossible to read when words are all you have as reference. My wife and I use IM's throughout the day when I'm at work and many times we have to remind each other that we don't know what the other person is feeling as they type. Emails have the same problem, but that's not as hard to get around if you actually take the time to check your email before sending it. I have been bitten a few times by that situation at work by reading into something too far when it was not meant as I interpreted it.

Overall, I think that saving time is the only true advantage to using these shortcuts while texting someone. It is the user's responsibility to use proper English when talking to someone directly. I can only imagine what would happen if these teens started ditching words for these acronyms in a job interview or a professional capacity. Just for curiosity, check out the link above to see all of the different acronyms. For now, here are a few of the common ones:

IDK=I don't know
OMG=Oh my God
LOL=Laughing out loud
LMAO=Laughing my ass off
BRB=be right back
BBL=be back later
ROTF=rolling on the floor

watch out for combos!
ROTFLMAO=rolling on the floor, laughing my ass off


Personally, as the author of this blog and a terrific English student, I am quite fond of our language and I prefer to write my words out. While I love finding ways to be more efficient, a practice that my dad has used in his business to achieve great success, I think saving time is only good if it helps productivity. There is nothing productive about kids sitting across from each other and talking in acronyms, or reading books that don't have real words.

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