Before you continue reading, I highly suggest you click the above ^link and take the Sporcle quiz on chat acronyms. Chances are you can name a good amount of them (my results: 21/30). This is because acronyms have become sort of a social norm in everyday communication, especially with younger generations. We use acronyms in texts, emails, Facebook chats, tweets, Instagram comments, Snapchat captions, memes, and even in everyday conversation. Acronyms are omnipresent. This begs the question, does today’s excessive use of acronyms mean that we have resorted to a “lazier” form of communication? I don’t think so. I think it demonstrates a combination of technological advancement and transformed culture in today’s fast-paced environment.
With the introduction of the flip phone and T9 texting (which is actually an acronym for Text on 9 keys), the use of acronyms made texting faster. I remember getting my first silver flip phone in 7th grade, and soon after that the acronym became my favorite shortcut—I was too impatient with the T9 program to ever want to type “be right back” all the way out. Who has time for that when you can express the same exact phrase in three letters?
Then came the introduction of the smartphone. T9 went away, but acronyms were here to say. I think this partly due to people becoming used to incorporating acronyms in conversation and partly due to the fast-paced culture we live in. Acronyms make texting faster and easier. And I don’t see anything wrong with something that makes my life easier. They have also act as a way of expressing emotion over text. When I send someone a text with “lol” or “omg” in the message, it means that I genuinely think something is either funny or surprising. Emojis can express this too, but I still prefer to use acronyms.
Today I was hyper-aware of how much acronyms play a part in everyday life. I sent texts including all of these acronyms: lol (laughing out loud), np (no problem), omg (oh my god), ygg (you go girl), tbh (to be honest), yolo (you only live once), and brb (be right back). I overheard girls saying L-O-L IRL (translation: in real life) conversation. I even came across this Instagram’s humorous spin on Clark Gable’s line from the 1939 film Gone with the Wind:
LOL. Tbh, I think acronyms will stick around for a while. Some of the ones we use today will most likely fade out. But new ones will be introduced.
BBFN (translation: bye bye for now)