Middle Class Problems: Where do I look for enlightenment when it comes to social-media shorthand?


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The Independent Online

When my father first signed off an email with “LOL”, I guessed he meant “lots of love”. This was a good few years ago, and I might have informed him, as Rebekah Brooks did David Cameron, that it was shorthand for “laugh out loud”. Except, at the time I thought it did stand for “lots of love” and thought my dad boldly go-ahead in its flagrant usage.  (I think it was my brother who put me right when I saw it elsewhere. With a pitying look.)

Then came “ROTFL”, “DM” and a slew of acronyms that everyone but me seemed to bandy about freely almost overnight as social media took off. It was a little like popping out for a pint of milk and coming back to find that everyone at home was speaking German, and what’s more claiming they had always spoken German. Jah? Nein.

Where was I to look for enlightenment? Somehow, I didn’t quite feel like revealing to friends and colleagues that I had no idea what “FTW” or “OMFG” meant. Even though I’d happily turn to them to ask what I should be listening to or watching, it felt unbearably past it to ask a 25- year-old the precise breakdown of “FFS”.

So, I turned, where else, to the internet. And so began an inexplicably furtive activity: looking up acronyms online so I’d know what all my hip-groovy Twitter friends were talking about. (The last one I had to look up was MT – I know, how can I show my face in public?).

I’m getting better, you’ll be pleased to hear. The next step? To actually use them: “BTW”, I’ve managed. But I fear “LMAO” maynever grace a tweet of mine.