Eric did an interesting presentation in class a few weeks ago about how common it’s become for us to use acronyms instead of real words. He mentioned – for lack of a better word – an evolution of the English language into an acronym-focused language that sounds incomplete and rushed.
Eric made a lot of great points about how this was effecting what we type using digital media. But I want to add on and say that acronyms are taking over the language we use in person as well.
I had this realization when I was watching Friends this morning. Phoebe told Rachel that she and Monica were her “B.F.F’s” and Rachel looked at Phoebe with a look of complete confusion. Phoebe then clarified, “best friends forever!” and the laugh track played.
I was mind blown that the acronym “B.F.F.” wasn’t common knowledge. This is such a commonly used acronym today that I don’t even consider it an acronym – it’s literally another word that means best friend. But 17 years ago (wow) when this episode aired, the term BFF was so uncommon that it had to be clarified in the Friends script. In fact, the whole point of the joke was that Phoebe was weird, and therefor she said a weird thing. Typical Phoebe.
This brings me to my point about our new speaking habits. I find myself and my friends saying things like “lol” and “tbt” (throwback thursday) when we are talking to each other- in person. We will actually say things like “Oh my God tbt to when we…” and it hadn’t even occurred to me until now that this isn’t actually a real sentence made up of real words. If I spoke that sentence to my mother, she would most likely have no idea what I was trying to say.
This is something that will probably continue to get worse, as I’m pretty sure Eric predicted in his presentation. Online, it’s definitely going to get worse as we type more and more and rely less on in-person communication. It’s not necessarily a good or bad thing – right now, it seems pretty innocent to me, but it’s definitely important to remember that there is a time and a place for acronyms, and it’s hard to quit a habit.