With the popularisation of internet, online slang and acronyms have become an everyday thing. While many users believe that they save time and effort by shortening words and sentences whenever they text or use instant messaging apps, others refuse to turn a regular human conversation into what looks like lines of code or some kind of encrypted message.
It is hard to determine if we actually cut down a significant amount of seconds by misspelling or abbreviating words when we type, but he truth is that we come across internet acronyms and slang so often, that whether we like it or not, it is important to know what they mean. Many of you would be already familiar with the lexicon in this list, but for those who are just discovering the interesting and usually amusing world of online jargon, here is a good way to start making sense of it.
If you can remember the days before Facebook and Twitter, when online chats and forums ruled as ways to interact with other users, chances are you know that a/s/l? stands for “age/sex/location?”. Nowadays, we can get answers to these questions without even asking them as this information is usually available when you look at someone’s social media profiles. However, this old-school slang is still in use (possibly because, a/s/l sounds less intrusive and desperate than typing the full question) and it goes right to the point when you want to know if a conversation is worth pursuing.
This is one of the classic expressions that will follow whenever you tell a joke or make a remark that intends to be funny in any way. I personally have never used it as the idea of telling someone that I am Laughing Out Loud, when I am just smiling quietly, seems rather fake. Still, showing your amusement online could be a difficult matter and many people prefer the subtle, but appreciative tone of LOL over a string of HAs.
Of course there are other options to be enthusiastic such as ROFL, but then again how many times would you be Rolling Over the Floor Laughing and how would you type if you really are. Things get more complicated if you consider that some people may feel that LOL indicates that you are laughing at them, and not with them. Furthermore, there is also “lulz”, which could be interpreted as an over-the-top LOL or a way to laugh at a situation that is not particularly funny, but that requires some humour to lighten the mood.
If you are chatting with someone and you need to interrupt the conversation temporarily because the phone rings, someone knocks on the door,or the pizza you left in the oven is burning, the polite and fast way to let your friends know that you will Be Right Back is to type BRB. Interestingly, BRB is also an acronym used in lieu of Big Red Button, which refers to a switch that holds the power to launch doomsday, an idea that was popular during the Cold War.
The Big Red Button should only be pressed in case of emergency, which in a way is similar to the online meaning of BRB. Some people feel offended when you leave them waiting in the middle of a conversation so you probably should only type BRB when it’s truly necessary. On the other hand, if the conversation is getting extremely boring or dangerous, you could also make use of BRB and pretend that you need to stop the chat due to the imminent zombie attack.
4. CYA, PLZ and THX
We have grouped together the abbreviations that intend to make common words faster to type, but that are also guilty of misspelling. While typing CYA probably does save some time when you want to say “See you”, and PLZ and THX may make things easier when you want to type Please and Thanks on a touch keyboard, it is impossible not to be concerned about the effect of these abbreviations in future spelling bee competitions. Another confusing slang that deserves special mention is kk, which has been chosen by some people to replace the traditional “ok”. It is hard to understand how effective it is to change the O for a K to express agreement. My only guess is that users of kk feel that it makes them sound less eager. It is like, “Sure….Whatever”.
Along with OMG (Oh my God/Gosh or Goodness), BFF has transcended the online world and has become part of many people’s vocabulary. You have probably heard some people referring to someone else as their BFF, which means that they consider them as their Best Friend Forever. In most cases the words “Best Friend” are used lightly and could describe someone that we hardly know, while “Forever” may last a very brief period of time. Probably that is why BFF has taken over the full description since it appears less definite and formal.
6. IDK/ BTW/ BC
These are recurrent acronyms that could appear in all kinds of conversations. IDK stands for I don’t know, while BTW is a shorter way to say By the way and BC is simply Because. The most interesting one of the bunch is IDK because although it denotes ignorance, it can also play in your favour. If someone asks you a question and you reply with IDK, they may be aware of the meaning and in that case, there is no more to it. However, if your fellow chatter doesn’t understand your answer, you will both find comfort in each other’s ignorance. You may not know what they asked about, but the fact that they have no idea what IDK means, puts you both at the same level.
There will be very few instances in which you may be forgiven for using TL; DR, which stands for “Too long; Didn’t Read”. You are likely to offend the writer by admitting that you were put off by the length of their work, or that simply you couldn’t bother taking the time to read it. And that is not all, the fact that you didn’t even take the time to type the whole sentence may make you look even lazier. Granted, sometimes we simply don’t have the time and some texts are truly too much to take.
If James Joyce, whose Ulysses’ is about 265,000 words in length, was alive today, he would probably have to deal with this TL; DR thing. At this stage, it is fair to wonder if future books may be written using internet slang in a effort to save time. By now, I hope you are in a better position to decipher texts and online chats. Just keep in mind that there are many more intriguing options like IRL (In real life) and the infamous YOLO, which reminds us that “You Only Live Once”, which may be why we look for ways to spend less time typing.