For every person who’s ever felt hopelessly out of the loop because she doesn’t understand what those young kids are always doing on their phones, take heart. For those employers who resent the lost productivity when staff members steal time to update their status, tweet, and post, take heart. For those parents who despair that they will never again have a meaningful conversation with their children, take heart.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has spent countless time and taxpayer dollars to create an eighty-three-page document translating 3000 Twitter-type phrases and shorthand. Some of the shorthand is so long and undecipherable as to be useless. Some is used so infrequently as to be pointless. Some is short form for hopelessly outdated expressions: BTDTGTTSAWIO (been there, done that, got the t-shirt and wore it out).
Imagine this conversation: That is a BOGSAT (bunch of guys sitting around talking). DILLIGAD (does it look like I give a damn?) No, but you know I ALOTBSOL (always look on the bright side of life). Hell, yeah, going through life with an E2EG (ear to ear grin).
Or a clandestine online relationship: What are you doing? I’m NIFOC (naked in front of computer). Does that mean what I think it means? IITYWIMWYBMAD (If I tell you what it means will you buy me a drink?) Oh, you make me LMSO (laugh my socks off)! BTWITIAILWY (by the way, I think I am in love with you). Or at least BFFLUDDUP (best friends for life until death do us part). Later, SOMSW (someone over my shoulder watching).
YKWRGMG (you know what really grinds my gears)? Goofy projects that waste money. Not knowing all the acronyms. Not having the time to engage in these frivolous time-wasters myself.
Perhaps this is simply the most recent example of how sub-groups of people create their own language. Teens do it to eke out privacy and create distance from their parents. Criminals do it to thwart police through coded communications. The language of adulterers attempts to keep secrets; titillation is simply a sexy by-product.
Most fields of endeavor have their own jargon or insider language. This type of shorthand presumably saves time and builds camaraderie and teamwork. For those outside the circle it is also exclusionary; the inside joke. It takes time and effort to decode and learn the acronyms. I remember being shocked to learn that medical people talk about dying patients as ’circling the drain.’ Yet that black humour is likely just what’s needed at the end of a tough shift.
FCOL (for crying out loud) I just wish we were BFF (best friends forever) who could ETW (enjoy the weekend). Instead we’re stuck here answering FAQ (frequently asked questions) because if we left it to Bob with his BAM (below average mentality) it would be the EOTWAWKI (end of the world as we know it).
In a world of misinformation and disinformation most days I consciously attempt to clarify BAMN (by any means necessary). Other times it’s just GIWIST (gee, I wish I said that), FWIS (from where I sit).
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites..