The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...

The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...
He's thinking Classic. (click on photo)


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Aug 13, 2009

Killing Us All, One Abbreviation at a Time

I found this on a blog - EXCELLENT! I'm sending it to everyone!

Webspeak: Killing Us All, One Abbreviation at a Time
by Melanie Yarbrough
7/13/2009 5:50:00 AM

While I was still at Emerson College, I ventured into the basement of the Little Building to use the gym, and I watched a disturbing newscast on “Webspeak.” This article more clearly spells out (pun intended) the worrisome aspects of this coded language, specifically because of the divide it creates between parents and their children, let alone intelligence and its counterpart (I also learned that NIFOC is code for “nude in front of computer”—what unnecessary information). Apparently, middle school and high school kids, the likes of which I had long been separated from, had taken to using IM and text message shorthand (i.e. BRB for “be right back”) in their academic papers and even in their SAT essays. I actually said, “WHAT?” out loud as I walked on the treadmill. I had just transferred from Georgia State University to Emerson to study Writing, Literature and Publishing. I had taken out an ungodly amount in loans (the first of several) in the quest to make language my life. I wanted to figure out how to say things that everyone could understand and relate to via my fiction. At GSU, my fiction classes felt like training for a hobby, something to do on the weekends when I had grown tired of crocheting or needlepoint. I had come to Emerson to reach out to the world that knew that fiction could be so much more than mindless entertainment; in fact, that it was essential to keeping life from becoming one big mindless pursuit. And here were these kids fighting against everything that my ideal profession stood for. If they’re busy creating this new language that automatically excludes a large portion of the population, what is the point in trying to communicate anymore? If everything could be reduced to their first letters, why write stories or novels or poetry anymore? WHY WAKE UP IN THE MORNING?

I eventually calmed down and found the silver lining to seeing this unsettling newscast: I couldn’t go to the gym anymore. But mainly, it made me hyperaware of the usage of these abominations to the English language (a similar, though not equal, offense to overuse of hyperbole). I should say that Emerson College is home to the people in the world who didn’t quite fit into normal molds. Not a bad thing, though not necessarily a good thing, this is the reason for most of the sarcasm and irony that encases Emerson almost as much as the cigarette smoke in front of the buildings. So it came as no surprise that many of the students would occasionally exclaim, “BRB” as they were walking away or “LOL” instead of Actually. Laughing. Out. Loud. And though it was hilarious, whatever that means, the first five thousand and two times these ironies were voiced, it quickly got old. And older. I’m of the religion that ironic over usage cancels itself out and becomes, simply, usage.

So, this rant is just to say: be careful. Be very careful. And even if it’s spelled wrong, spell out what you want to say. And if something’s funny, do us all a favor and just LAUGH.


RebeccaFM said...

From Pete:

You'll be proud to know, if you haven't noticed it before, that webspeak has not taken hold here. Granted, I may be guilty of using an abbreviation every now and then… Lenny and I have a favorite abbreviation that Kim came up with: "WSWSSN" which means "We're stupid, we should stop now." But apart from that (and you'd think we'd use that one a LOT, huh!??) and the very occasional "BRB" my chat windows use correct capitalization, punctuation, and words get spelled out. (I also use "then" where appropriate and "than" where appropriate! He, he!!)

Of course, it's true that I have the benefit of using a real, honest-to-goodness keyboard and I'm not pecking away with my thumbs on a stupid cell phone. So, you know, that helps. It also helps that I learned to type when I was in, oh, 2nd grade (informally… my mom and dad taught me) and then formally in 7th grade at Hedrick Jr. High. So I have all those years of having to type real words and not acronyms, having to use proper capitalization, etc. So now it's just habit and it's a hard habit to break. Kids these days don't have that albatross around their neck, but I wish they did!! It took me some time several years ago to abandon the practice of using two spaces between sentences. That is no longer proper form. Training myself to stick with one took some effort.

Good stuff.

RebeccaFM said...

Well..... I didn't give in easily. But I am a writer.

And 160 characters is NOT enough for my text, so I was forced into LOL, BRB and deleting all the vowels in particular words to fit it in :)


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