Pesky acronyms of everyday conversing. DANGER: Full sentences soon to be alien.
Within my first entry on here dwells moderately venomous ranting. It is, I’m positive, to be the first of many vendettas against the perpetual fluxing behaviour in popular culture.
As no doubt you will have speculated by the title, I will address in some small detail precisely what my hostility is towards the perpetually fluxing textual slang of Instant messaging and SMS messages.
You will have inevitably come across the acronym lol. When first confronted with this overused expression, I assumed it was a typo. (Yes, I am well aware that I am writing about the decline of language due to shortening of words, but I think this abbreviation is a satisfactory way to communicate typographical error.) I scoured the keyboard for the possibilities, coming up with kol [cool] and some others I cannot recall at this moment. Eventually, I had to ask him what he had meant to write. “It means ‘laugh out loud,’” he typed back knowingly. I have subsequently witnessed its evolution into much more than merely approval of a joke.
The multi-faceted meanings of lol.
Laugh[ing] out loud. My chief irritation with this definition of lol is that, by and large, they are lying to people. They most certainly are not physically or metaphorically rolling on the floor laughing (whilst using the acronym ROFL); Especially as I do not flatter myself as being sufficiently amusing (even with the aid of excerpts from my favourite Monty Python sketches) for people to manage more than a quick grin, let alone to render my friends paralysed from the legs down via Instant messaging. Even incredibly witty comedians would consider it a ambitious job to succeed in making someone fall of their chair from laughing so hard that they roll on the floor and then stop to stand up with sufficient rapidity to be able to type the acronym for rolling on the floor laughing less than two seconds after reading the joke.
Perhaps it is an inherent snobbery within me that permits me to criticise this manner of communication, but I would feel somewhat ashamed about typing lol into the conversation box – Or, even worse, into an email. I would also regard myself at fault to respond with lol when someone is not, in reality, humorous; even if it is to make them feel better about making a bad joke.
Starting with the support of someone else’s jesting, it then morphed into a prompt for support of their own jokes. I cannot envisage typing lol in the hope that someone will reply with the aforementioned lingo after a mental prodding for them to find what I wrote amusing. I cringe thinking that someone would reason that I am brimming with such arrogance about my comic abilities that I have to commend my own joke; demanding laughter in response.
Additionally, just because I do not write lol, it doesn’t mean that I don’t get the joke – It’s just that I didn’t find it funny! Whenever someone writes something that they think is amusing (but is usually just cynical) (usually with a lol to finish), if ever I respond without a hehe, haha or lol they will usually state ‘I was joking by the way.’ I KNOW! I get the joke, but it is not worthy of laughter. I didn’t want to mention the reality that I didn’t find it hilarious, but I also did not want to reward the tiresome remark with laughter (or fake laughter).
Of course, occasionally I do oblige; I find myself echoing them as far as can justify – by writing the sound haha (but only if I, In reality, laugh; I must be clear on that) – After all, sometimes they do say something witty, even if they exasperate me for trying to validate their joke with a lol.
A more recent use for lol that I have become aware of is to be a silence filler. When people are uncomfortable, when they feel they should respond, they plonk lol on the metaphorical table (but also literal if there computer is on one.) One of the dandy things about Instant messaging online is that you are not obligated to react instantly, as people are commonly doing something else anyway: conversing with others; making dinner; watching a film; pretending to do all of these. Why fill a perfectly good silence with moronic pretend hysterical laughing because silences make you uneasy? Embrace the silence as a way to come up with something more interesting and original than lol or lmao. If you must, consult recent news or look at youtube videos. Just don’t resort to that blasted ‘word’ (please can it not become a real word*).
But what really gets my figurative goat is how people use lol as an alternative to punctuation. Example: hello lol how are you lol what you doing lol. It is literally used it instead of commas, full stops and question marks. hello lol. Why are they laughing out loud? Is there something I am missing? Then tell me! I know my mind cannot comprehend every joke in the world, but I really do not get these ones. Oh! Maybe they think it is side-splitting to reject capital letters? Ingenious nonconformists! Or perhaps they just want everyone to think that they chuckle moronically between every breath, finding hello a particularly amusing joke that they should make the world laugh with.
As well as using it for punctuation, they (the enemy) use it to symbolise an answer without actually having to respond properly…I was not joking when I asked when we should meet up; I actually wanted to know! But when the response is apparent laughing so hard their bottom has come off, I have to consider a career in comedy – Imagine what I could do with a knock knock joke.
Oh, yes, we know you mean it…
Lol (and also smiley faces) have also become a concealment for insults. It is the lazy version of writing “I’m not being rude but…” (E.g. “I’m not being rude, but you’re really fat.”) Saying “I’m not being rude” does not take away from the fact you are being rude, as lol should not expect a laugh after an insult.
These smileys are shoved on the end of a massive insult to ease the upset and make the message appear less sinister. So, this means that one can now say something truly hurtful, but as long as one adds a lol or a smiley face on the end, one will not come off as a complete tosser; Even though the other person actually knows you mean what you say…Oh yes, we know. Yes, I am talking to you, smiley smilerson. And for the things that you are actually joking about, we can work it out. We may not laugh at your tedious joke, but that doesn’t mean we do not get it. We don’t need a hint (and a prod and a deafening look-at-me Instant message) to work it out.
Time and money saving…but you have been on Facebook for hours…
People may use it, or claim to use it, as a quick and easy way to show enthusiasm for a comment, but I find it more encouraging to simply type something along the lines of ‘that is terribly amusing,’ ‘I’m joking’ or ‘uncomfortable silence isn’t it…’ Plus, if you actually want to convey your genuine enthusiasm for something, why not write an entire sentence to show your sincerity?
If you are worried about wasting 20p when could could have spent 10p less by writing a less coherent SMS I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it. I have even done it myself. In the past I have left the apostrophe out of don’t, reiterating my carefree attitude by replacing to or too with 2 and not using capital letters at the beginning of a sentence, just so that the recipient realises I knowingly left out of the apostrophe and that I wanted to save money. Of course, being a bit of a snob about this, I then commonly wrote an extra message to vindicate my actions (completely defeating the objective of writing the original SMS in the first place).
Not being completely up to date with the new jargon and acronyms, I need to verify everything someone messages me in this new lingo, wasting my money and theirs when they have to explain what they just could have put in the original message. That’s 20p lost between the two of us, guys! (Depending on your network and plan.)
But poverty must be dismissed as an excuse in Instant messaging and emails as they are both free and there are no limitations to the word count (within reason). Even if one were to write so much that one would need to write another email, there still rests no problem – It is free so it does not matter. And does it not take take some of the joy out of writing emails if all one is trying to do is get the rough point across whilst typing a list of anagrams?
Let us face it – You have enough time to write later instead of l8r (particularly as there is a number breaking up the natural flow of typing on a keyboard). We all know it is not really about saving time, even though you say you cannot be bothered to write properly. Ok, I know that may be possible with lol** but it definitely isn’t with woz…Seriously… Woz has EXACTLY THE SAME AMOUNT OF LETTERS AS WAS!
Plus, the objective is defeated as most of my conversations on Instant messaging tend to be me neglecting the other participant for a few minutes whilst I look up their Instant messaging slang on google and add it into the context of the rest of the conversation, including integrating it with other acronyms I had also not previously encountered. That is when they spell it correctly. Too much of my time is spent deciphering messages. I have a friend who owns within him a medal of atrocious spelling and grammar. As it is, for the past couple of years, I have spent minutes trying to work out what he’s trying to communicate in a single sentence; So, now that he uses this new age Instant messaging slang, I have a slim chance of decrypting even what the topic of conversation is – he could be telling me his dog’s died (though he doesn’t have a dog. Nonetheless, I could come to that conclusion with the obscurity of his texts.) or that he’s won the lottery. I have an inkling getting these two confused would not be particularly helpful – Unless, of course, I answer with lol, which could mean lots of love as well as a lazy non-answering answer.
An advantage of communicating in full sentences is that if you put an incorrect letter in somewhere, it is usually still intelligible. However with already abbreviated words and sentences, there is no way that one would be able to work out what is being written. And if someone can’t be bothered to write one extra letter to write the word properly, what’s the point in writing in the first place? If you’re really that pressed for time, I don’t want to be peeved by your dreadful spelling!
Extracting meaning from what appears to be a hopeless jumble of symbols.
In addition to bad spelling and incessantly changing lingo, another difficulty enters the foreground – there are too many cool/kwl/kl combinations. Plus, some of the acronyms look like real words. Well, in reality, these ones are real words, but others encourage you to read them as something completely different. For example:
beg – big evil grin [Harmless misunderstanding]
bitch – basically in the clear, honey [A not so harmless disturbance]
buff – big ugly fat f*** [I actually quite like this one for the obvious contrast. For the catty among us, this could be a cunning trap set up that may make us reveal our inner spitefulness.]
s – smile [If you have to say smile to someone, the chances are that they are in all likelihood feeling wretched, so the least you could do is write the whole word rather than profess you're too busy to write four extra letters.]
gd – God/good [There is a massive distinction between these two words in more ways than one.]
I have anxiety that in the near future we [humans] will all write entirely in abbreviated language. There will be even more words to replace full sentences and people will have got so used to that way of communicating that it will become acceptable for any occasion and, eventually, everyone will partake in this travesty. And so the English language (and others) will be only a way of conveying what people are trying to say, rather than the joy of conversing. I fear adjectives are already on the decline and that their absence will cease to add colour to a sentence. Our language will no longer be able to smother us comfortingly in a metaphorical blanket of vocalised rainbows and aural pleasure, and we will be lesser for it.
A friend of mine actually verbalizes the ‘word’ lol instead of laughing, occasionally with a deadpan expression, which makes it both bizarre and tragic simultaneously.
I must confess, I do upon occasion slip into my own ‘language’ which is, to me, a complete, coherent and acceptable form of verbalisation that happens uses the lowest measure of effort as it is possible with human vocalization. To other people, it sounds vaguely as if a constipated cow is being bitten by five large vampiristic [yellow] butterflies. It should be noted that the only time this language appears is when I have been awoken from a deep slumber.
So, proposing this slang is not a good thing, is it laziness or wanting to appear cool?
Sometimes the words even have the same amount of letters than in the approved and original word, but is it that everybody just wants to sound stupid in texts? I am reminded of a few people, perhaps even comprising of myself at some point, who have, upon occasion, made fun of this new lingo, with the end result being that the language eventually rubbed off on them. And so the language lives by people who scorn it the most.
Struggling my utmost to see any redemption in this text slang, one possibility that I came up with was that it could encourage creativity. Despite it looking like a de-evolving language, technically (I write begrudgingly) it is evolving as it is changing the way we use words and adding additional possibilities into our vocabulary. Although, not all evolution is a good thing, Chlamydia being the perfect subject to demonstrate this. So perhaps these anagrams are simply the current version of the coded messages my friends and I would pass around class when we were younger? No, I don’t think so. Sure, a few may be obscure, but that doesn’t make one clever if one uses them. Plus, I propose that that is not their intended use, even if it does get the brain ticking in some [very] small way.
But apparently loss of punctuation in its rightful place is hilarious, so what would I know about how this new slang should be used? Nothing. I’m simply a person who doesn’t pretend laugh after every sentence naïvely thinking of it as frustrating, lazy, bothersome and ruining language.
Finally, to end this infant beast of a rant, one last thing I must convey: Despite this entire article, please do not feel in the least bit hesitant to respond to this in any text you deem appropriate. n fct, if u dnt ill b rly :’( LOL
*Lamentably, according to online dictionaries, it has become a real word.
**Please note that this defence of time backfires for lol as a replacement for punctuation.