Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Abbreviation abuse is no laughing matter. LOL.

The writer in me is loving all of this digital age stuff.



Instant Messaging.

Thanks to modern technology, I can conveniently and simultaneously bombard my hundreds of friends—or maybe slightly fewer than that now--with all of the random thoughts that are scurrying through my brain…at any given moment! I venture to say that I might even be addicted to these instantaneous forms of communication. Some folks drink. Others smoke. I’m high on social media.

But certain people out there are seriously killing my buzz.

Not everyone shares my deep and abiding love for a little thing I like to call “the English language.” Unlike many of my fellow raconteurs (I had to look that word up to make sure it meant what I thought it meant--it does), I’m unwilling to send out any communication that looks like the following just to shave seven or eight seconds off of my typing time:

          UR going 2 B ok. U will find the right person 4 U and U will fall in love and she will appreciate U 4 who U R.

I took the above from an actual comment left on a friend’s Facebook® page. Side note: I had to paraphrase a bit. I’d like to add that paraphrasing a bunch of random letters and numbers is not as easy as it may sound.

Is it really so taxing on the fingers--and the brain--to type out the words “you” or “are” or “to” or “be” in their entirety?

When I try to decipher some of these cryptic messages, it reminds me a lot of being in my car at a stop light and attempting to read the vanity plate of the driver in front of me. As in, the guy who tries to make a very clear-cut humorous or political statement to the world using seven or fewer letters and numbers on the back of his car. Statements like: RUD14ME, or GBL WMR or AHEADAU.

I sit and stare at it for several seconds. I can’t quite make it out. I lean forward, poking my chin over the steering wheel. I squint, too, as though that’s going to help. Still nothing. Then the light turns green and the guy speeds away and for the rest of the day I make myself nuts wondering what he was trying to tell me. How will I ever know? He’s gone!

Much of what I see on the internet these days is causing me this same kind of anxiety. I feel like I’m decoding one mysterious vanity plate after another, squinting and leaning in closer to the screen in a futile effort to make it seem a little bit like English.

As annoying as all of this abbreviating can be, nothing will make my eye twitch faster than the random and pointless use of the cancer of all internet-speak: LOL.

LOL used to mean something was funny. It used to mean that the person on the other end was experiencing a brief moment of irrepressible joy. Now it simply means, “I’m done talking…I think.” It’s become a form of punctuation; a period at the end of a boring sentence.

"I went to the store. lol"
"Those green beans were delicious. lol"
"My grandma died. lol"

 It’s the written equivalent of that uncomfortable moment at the door after a first date: Do I kiss him? Do I tell her I’ll call her? I don’t know what to say here. Wait! I’ve got it…LOL! Whew. That was almost awkward.

Let’s get real. If everyone is really laughing out loud as much as they claim to be, wouldn’t the result be a sonic boom such as the world has never heard? The other possibility is that the computers and cell phones of the earth have all been overtaken by a bunch of hyenas.

My point is, if UR going 2 abbrevE8, please make sure U do so responsibly. Do UR best 2 B courteous 2 those 2 whom U send UR txt msgs. TY. LOL.