Everyone has their pet peeves—I have several. Some of them are pretty mundane and relatable, like people who don’t use their blinker (rude and unsafe, guys). Others may be more specific to me, like when I get a fortune cookie that is more of a saying than a fortune. But the pet peeve that really grinds my gears is when people use bad grammar on a digital device—especially using acronyms instead of full sentences.
I know some really smart, accomplished people who would absolutely slaughter me at Trivial Pursuit and mimic Alex Trebek in their Jeopardy! knowledge. And yet, these intelligent human beings will have the nerve to text me “OMW C U L8R.”
First off, why are you using acronyms? Regardless of the way it’s presented or received, writing should always be easy to read and understand. Acronyms, for the most part, aren’t easy. Sure, some are fairly well-known, like LOL, but many are only well established within certain demographics. I shouldn’t have to Google your message to decrypt it. Same goes with using letters and numbers in place of actual words.
Some argue that using acronyms and initials is just how texting works. But that’s just a big fat lie those people have to tell themselves in order to sleep at night.
Here’s the truth: When texting first hit the masses, yes, abbreviated speak was an acceptable practice. But it wasn’t because the grammar world rolled over and died—it was out of necessity.
Once upon a time, just starting a text took a great amount of effort. Navigating a Nokia “brick” cellphone’s home screen to create a new message took at least eight very intentional, if-you-mess-up-you-have-to-start-over button presses. Writing the message was even worse. It wasn’t just clicking a letter, it was clicking a number key a certain amount of times to get a letter. It took days to type anything out. And then (surprise!) the text message could only contain so many characters, so a simple message like “On my way, see you later” had to be sent as two texts.
But with smartphones, you don’t have to press the number 6 three times to get an O, you just press O. And, the amount of time it takes to type “On” vs. “O” is essentially the same. The amount of time it takes your reader to figure out that OMW means “on my way” is significantly longer. Plus, your brain actually has to translate your super-cool, grammatically correct English language into this chopped up, channeling Avril Lavigne c. 2002 nonsense; so it’s actually more effort than you think.
Let’s be honest, the only real reason you’re texting in code is because you’re lazy. It doesn’t really save any time, and it actually takes your brain more effort to translate “on my way” into “OMW.” It truly is more work than it’s worth. (As a side note, to all those who object to spelling out words because they’re driving and don’t want to be looking at the screen any longer than they have to, YOU SHOULD NOT BE TEXTING AND DRIVING!)
So, yes—if you’ve found yourself in a time warp and navigating a flip phone, by all means, do whatever you have to do to get a text out, even if it means using acronyms. But frankly, sending out smoke signals or—God forbid—calling will probably get your message out faster.
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