I am a writer and speaker so, of course, I love words.

My daily crossword is a morning ritual I miss if an unusual schedule prevents it. I like getting information and learning the origin and meaning of words.

I used to have an app that would send me the “word of the day” to broaden my vocabulary. (I wonder why I don’t get that anymore. I’ll have to check!) I frequently ask Google the meaning of a word I am unfamiliar with.

I also like complete thoughts. I like bullet points as well as paragraphs for clear communication. I rarely use curse words because I feel I can be more creative than using four letters to describe my opinion of the situation.

As I have said, I like words.

Enter Texting and Social Media

Which is why social media abbreviations leave me scratching my head. When I see three- or four-letter abbreviations in texts, Instagram, or Facebook, I usually have to “ask the Google” to help me decipher the meanings.

I assume that the shortening of common phrases made tweeting deep thoughts possible, since a 140-character limit does require some cleverness. But it is a trend that continues in all methods of communication, so here is my attempt at helping us all be a little more ready to understand.

Common Abbreviations

There are few abbreviations that have become common to be easily recognized. OMG, for instance, because people actually say it in verbal conversation. On television, it is usually more O-M-G… said slowly and with emphasis. Now that I know what it means, it is easily understood, BTW (by the way).

I actually just received a text that only says, OMW. Because I have asked before, I now know that this colleague is on his way to our meeting.

IDK I don’t know

As in, idk why people can’t type a few more letters when trying to communicate. Or, idk what we are having for dinner. Or, idk what day the time changes back from Daylight Savings (but Google knows!).

AMA Ask me anything

Really? Anything? Hmmm. What would I like to know that I can’t ask the Google?

IKR I know right

Technically, with proper punctuation, this would be, “I know, right?” as in “That person didn’t know that LOL (laughing out loud) could also be communicated with ‘That’s hilarious!’” or “I can’t believe that happened!” or “That is just too funny!”

BRB Be right back

This one gets me every time. Maybe because a young colleague of mine with the initials BB often uses it in texts to me.

I spent a few minutes once, trying to guess what the ‘R’ as her middle initial was for… until she told me her middle name is Lea and couldn’t figure out why I was asking. Now, I know that when BLB texts me brb, I should expect another text from her soon.

SMH Shaking my head

Which is what I am obviously doing about this whole abbreviation thing. I’m also smh about the way my young grandchildren are adding numbers in their homework. And am completely smh about having video games explained to me by the 4-year-old.

TBH To be honest

Why don’t we just agree to be honest all the time? Then, we won’t have to clarify when we are being honest. But, tbh, I suppose it is a helpful emphasis at times.

IMO In my opinion and IMHO In my humble opinion

If the point of abbreviations is to save time and typing, why is it necessary to use extraneous words? If I state my opinion, isn’t it obvious that it is my opinion?

And, honestly, adding “humble” to the statement sort of leaves one wondering how humble the person actually is. I guess imnsho (In my not-so-humble opinion), while not on any list I have seen, might be more accurate.

IDC I don’t care, JK Just kidding and FYI For your information

These are sort of obvious, but, tbh, I do use fyi with some frequency. But I think that has been around in business memos for a long time? Not just recent social media – 140-character limitations. ikr?

IRL In real life

I confess, this one leaves me wondering. Unless you are a fiction writer, aren’t you living in real life all the time? I had someone (young) try to explain it to me, but I am still not so sure I get what irl is communicating.

ICYMI In case you missed it

The obvious problem with this one is that I will miss it every time if I rely on my understanding of these abbreviations.

FOMO Fear of missing out

I heard someone say (audibly), “It’s my fomo that gets me.” Wow. I am way behind. I had to go and look up (on Google) what fomo was to understand that verbal conversation.

I resist the urge to use these abbreviations myself, since I am embracing the fact that I am mature and not all trends and fads fit me well. I do want to understand, though, so to keep communication open, I am familiarizing myself. I hope that my efforts at understanding will be met with appreciation.

tbh, idk if anyone will notice, but imo, ppl (people) like to be heard and understood, so ama while I live mrl the best that I can.

How often do you use abbreviations in social media and verbal conversations? Which ones are your favorites? Do you try to understand abbreviations to keep the conversation going? Let’s have a chat and see if we can figure this thing out.

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