This past weekend I was visiting with a group of friends when one stood up to excuse herself for a moment, she turns to the group and says “BRB!” in her usual bubbly voice. I must admit I was immediately confused. Had I misheard her? Turns out, according to the rest of my technologically advanced friends, she had used internet slang for “be right back”. So now here I am wondering if this is the communication of the future and if so, will some of us get lost in translation?
By now I’m assuming “LOL” and “OMG” are amongst the most commonly known intialisms in Internet slang. But how did this trend get started? According to my friend Wikipedia, the origins of internet slang seem to have been derived from “fanspeak”, the slang of science fiction fandom. A significant portion of computer programmers historically are science fiction readers. Interesting. From there, the jargon file grew to include smallhand used in talk mode between terminals. For example: “BTW”-by the way, “FYI”-for your information, “THX” – thanks, “BFN”- by for now, “TTYL” – talk to you later, or “IMHO”- in my humble opinion. Emoticons were then added in all caps to express real-life facial expressions in order to articulate intentions online. It is difficult to interpret someone’s tone without actually hearing their voice or seeing their facial reaction. This is where “LOL” – laugh out loud, “ROFL” – rolling on (the) floor laughing, and “OMG”- Oh my God, came to play.
Among teenagers, Internet slang is used in spoken as well in written communications. Many analysts would argue that the crossover of this new variety of language was really invented in the last 5 years by the young folk. They see it as a new and exciting development bridging the communication gap between ages. Still many commentators disagree, stating that this is merely a trend, and that teenagers will eventually have to buckle down and represent correct grammar if they ever intend to have a career. The latter of course, sounds like something my mother would say.
With all this uncertainty of the future of internet slang, when is it acceptable to succumb to the cool kids and spout out an “OMG” or two? Standards in education are holding their ground. You’ll most likely receive a flunking grade if you choose to slang your way through Lit 101. Business correspondence is also an arena to keep professional. Your client or recipient may not be aware of their meanings and well, your boss may not end up “LOL’ing”.
IMHO, I feel we should all see Internet slang for what it is. A quick way to text, online chat and respond via email to your friends. That I can understand. As for verbal abbreviating, I’m still a little confused. Perhaps you can use it to verbally expand your sense of humor. Or better yet, you can be like me and give up all hope of joining the cool kids club. Simply start abbreviating as much as possible in verbal conversation. TWTT!! (That will teach them)
The fun will never end.