TTYL, BRB, FOMO, ICYMI, AMA and IMHO when used in a chat, in a tweet, on Facebook or in life, sometimes seem to throw us off guard. “What just hit me”, or perhaps if you abbreviate that phrase, it will be WJHM, is an instant reaction. Especially if staying clued in is not something you have been good at. That’s perhaps the difference between a generation of people who grew up outside of social media, and the generation of people who grew up within it.
Sometimes the difference between the two generations is tangible. The former will often scorn at staying “with it” and knowing the acronyms, and perhaps even feel ashamed or embarrassed about knowing them. Sometimes people call the abbreviations “slang” – viewing them as a kind of lingo they would rather keep away from, perhaps thinking that good English speakers will not use the short-cuts.
“I am not a slang user so I stick to complete sentences except words like u, r, 2, &, v, I, etc. Some words like IMHO or burn or ROFL do creep in sometimes,” says environmentalist Anand Pendharkar, who has used Twitter extensively to throw light on environmental, ecological, human rights and LGBTQI issues. Thus some of us like to be purists in that sense, while the others opt to be adherents.
Emoticons are described as a “time-saving method.” WhatsApp and Facebook have developed a whole range of emoticons which can be perfect substitutes for a sentence, a thought, a feeling or an expression. An article by Laurel Pinson on stylecaster.com gives browsers a low-down on expressions on social media that have figured in the way we converse online, encouraging users to start “peppering (them) into your tweets with relish”.
“The Naughties” are described as a list of acronyms one can use if one wants to get away with being nasty online, in an acceptable format. In the article, acronyms which have replaced full sentences, such as AYKMWTS (Are You Kidding Me With This Sh**?) and BAMF (Bad Ass Mother Fu…er) show us how social media helps an individual channel one’s rage and express it more mildly.
Says artist and writer Shanaya Tata, whose Instagram posts are an extension of her artistic self, “I use social media almost like a scrapbook. My posts are special moments and memories both from the present and the past.
Memories, people, places, and art. I decide on my hashtags based on two things – the first is just words – the vibe that comes to mind as an afterthought to the post. Second is the community I want to reach - #artists is an example. The posts on Insta are a bit more honest,” revealing which platform she prefers most.
Recently released book ‘Love in the Time of Whatsapp and Other Stories’ is all about technology and the digital age and its stories try and understand the complicated path love follows trying to navigate through technological hiccups and all the challenges posed by technology to love. T
he author of one of the stories, TTYL, Shriti Tyagi, tells us that her story is about how “life and love itself is abbreviated in the times we live in,” hinting at short-lived affairs, ghosting, overnight disappearances and vanishing acts by lovers. WhatsApp has increased the pace of expectations and a vanishing act on WhatsApp by a potential boyfriend or girlfriend can have wide implications.
“It is easy to disconnect on a phone screen. Most stories in the book explore facets of love and disconnect in a highly connected world.” Tyagi, who conducted workshops on emojis for kids, a few months ago, asking them to write entire stories in emoji, says, “It was super cool what they came up with because they relate to it. They own the expression.”
According to him, one thing is clear—language is in flux. “It’s quicker and more and more abbreviated. It takes away from the way we have been using language, but also turns it on its head. if not for form… it works humour.”