I decided to have a bit of a Facebook hiatus recently (bar posting links to blogposts), for two reasons:
1. I looked back at my recent activity/comments and had similar thoughts to those you have when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, in the morning: ‘What a mess. What have I been doing?’
2. Online activity – social media in particular – is murdering the way we think and the way we use language.
Take a really obvious example: ‘Lol’
‘Lol’ – unless you’ve been in a coma for the last 15 years – means ‘laugh out loud’.
A couple of days ago, someone said ‘Lol’ to me, in person. Surely you’d just laugh if something was that funny, face to face?
When people use ‘Lol’ online, rarely do they mean more than ‘I smiled slightly’… which is quite some distance from ‘laugh out loud’.
When they genuinely ‘Lol’ there are exaggerated forms that can be written, but…
‘Loooool’ = ‘laugh out out out out out loud’
‘Lollllll’ = ‘laugh out loud loud loud loud loud loud’
Both of these are a bit nuts.
The best alternative is ‘Lllllol’ – ‘laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh out loud’ – but this looks Spanish or Welsh.
‘Lol’ can also be used to put an immediate friendly spin on what – at first glance – looks to be an aggressive statement e.g ‘Your opinion means nothing, crawl away and die… Lol’
‘Tbh’ (‘To be honest’) is also right up there with ‘Lol’. I’ve used ‘tbh’ way too much, recently. It’s a caveat for ‘I’m just about to say/write something that may p*ss you off a bit’ (‘but it’s okay because I wrote tbh, first’)
It’d be quicker to just type the offensive comment and watch the world burn around you afterwards.
This is not to mention the fact that a deity, respected and feared by many, worldwide, has become nothing more than a three letter abbreviation (or ‘TLA’) to express excitement or disbelief: OMG.
I give us all another 10 years before we’re gibbering, drooling wrecks who can only speak and write in abbreviations and acronyms, none of which fit the context in which we’re using them.
Still, it’ll make my job a whole lot easier…