Acronyms are Here to Stay

Whether I like it or not, abbreviations or acronyms are used online more every day. It’s kind of like a secret code. If you have to ask what it means, you’re obviously not “in the club.” When I asked my web designer why he ended all of his emails with LMK, I felt stupid when he responded simply, “Let Me Know.”

Granted, acronyms have been common for years, since before World War II, when the word snafu became commonly used for “situation normal, all [flubbed] up.” Other well-used acronyms are RSVP (please respond), TLC (tender loving care), ESP (extra-sensory perception), and FYI (for your information).

Now, we’ve added FAQs (frequently asked questions), KISS (keep it simple, stupid), DIY (do it yourself), and TBA (to be announced). Businesses use RFP (request for proposal), TOM (top of mind), WIIFM (what’s in it for me?), POS (point of service), B2B (business to business), USP (unique selling proposition), SOP (standard operating procedure), DD (due diligence), VA (virtual assistant), WCB (will call back) and LVM (left voice message).

Gaining popularity are TMI (too much information), NIMBY (not in my backyard), XOXO (hugs and kisses), BFF (Best friends forever), BTW (by the way), OMG (oh my gosh), and ETA (estimated time of arrival).

Some humorous or cute acronyms are GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) and its counterpart COCO, (coffee in, coffee out), *$? (Starbucks?), ruok (are you okay?), cul8r (see you later). Texting created the necessity to communicate in as few “characters” as possible. Therefore, we now see b4, ru, and u2, w/ (with) and w/o (without).

You can show consideration with minimal effort with the use of GMTA (great minds think alike), GMTA (great minds think for themselves), SLAW (sounds like a winner), KUTGW (keep up the good work), NRN (no reply necessary), DRIB (don’t read if busy), HTH (hope this helps), and EOM (end of message). Even if you are in a terrific rush, I urge you to  have time to type the always-welcome words pls (please), tks (thanks), ty (thank you), sry (sorry), and yw (you’re welcome).

Beware of miscommunication when using ambiguous acronyms. LOL can mean laugh out loud, but it can also mean lots of love. Two very different emotions. As you can imagine, people have gotten into trouble with this one! CYA can mean the well-worn advice, “cover your ass[ets], or simply, “see ya.” CB? can be “Did he call back?” or “coffee break?” ED can be “by the end of the day” or “end of discussion.” Again, all very different meanings.

To make things more confusing, some acronyms can mean three things. For example, GG can be a compliment (good game), a salutation (gotta go), or an emotion (giggling.) Which one is it? Another risky one is STD, which has a negative history, indeed. In this acronym’s newer, more positive uses, it can mean “save the date” or “seal the deal.”

I get it that acronyms are here to stay. I’m okay with it. What I don’t like is the way they are used to be crass and insulting. Hopefully, your colleagues are not describing you or working with you in terms such as ACORN (a completely obsessive really nutty person), CWOT (complete waste of time), WOMBAT (waste of money, brains and time), ADIH (another day in hell), and SSDD (same [stuff], different day). If you have kids, keep an eye out for POS (parents over shoulder), NP (nosey parents), or PIR (parent in room).

Acronyms are less annoying than emoticons and they are used more often in a professional environment. Of course, the red heart emoticon is perfect to use with loved ones. But to some people, the smiley face doesn’t look very sincere and the angry face looks petulant.

Online acronyms and emoticons can be convenient and fun. Just make sure that every participant in the game is playing with the same set of rules. Here are a couple of questions for you: 1. Am I wrong about emoticons? 🙁 2. What are some of your favorite acronyms? I look forward to reading your comments, as you weigh in on this cryptic topic!


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