DIFIK (Damned If I Know)

I love the English language.  I love French too, but since I happen to know English better, it’s my favorite.  Reading it, writing it, speaking it – I’m a fan.  So many words, so many alternatives for expressing one’s thoughts, so much potential for discourse.  There are a lot of people who have read this blog, many of whom have commented (and who write their own blogs) with far greater eloquence than I will ever have.

Yet, I am feeling so alone.

I recently read that there are now more than 80 million who are texting regularly.  80 million people!!  Now, I am not a very good texter.  I don’t do conversation in short-hand, counting characters as I go.  It doesn’t come naturally to me, and in my little old-school brain, it bugs me that it comes so naturally to everybody else (or to 80 million people other than me – but that seems like a significant enough number that I can refer to them as the collective ‘everybody’).  Anyway, I just looked up ‘texting’ on Google – and printed off 40 pages of acronyms.  Forty pages of abbreviated ways that people can arguably communicate with each other.  Really?  This is communicating?  This is what you’re doing while you’re driving, rolling your shopping cart down the supermarket aisles, walking on the street – all in the name of staying in touch (and multi-tasking – or so you think)?

143; 459; 831; ILU; ILY all mean ‘I love you’.  1432 -‘I love you more'; IWALU – ‘I will always love you'; ILUAAF – ‘I love you as a friend'; LUL – ‘love you lots’ LYLB – ‘love you later bye’.  I could go on…I can’t even count the number of phrases with a certain epithet that rhymes with ‘truck’ – well I could, but there were just too many per page to sustain my interest.  ROFL – ‘rolling on the floor laughing'; ROTFL – ‘rolling on the floor laughing'; ROTFLMAO – ‘rolling on the floor laughing my ass off’…there’s also ROTGLMAO – ‘rolling on the ground laughing my ass off’.  I’m so glad that they’ve added enough options so that you can use different nouns.

There are some that are just plain stupid – AFJ – ‘April Fool’s Joke’ – how often do you need to use that expression to justify writing it in short-hand?  RLF – ‘real life friend’.  I don’t know how to say this gently, but if you have friends that exist only in your imagination – I understand – but perhaps it would help if you talked to someone about this FTF (face-to-face).

I am officially going anti-acronym.  I am guilty of writing ‘lol’, even ‘rofl’ and yes, ‘btw’ has come up in more than one message from yours truly. And reading this list has shown me that we are giving each other and the English language short shrift.  The other night Andy and I watched a family of four sit down at a restaurant, each completely immersed in his/her smartphone.  They didn’t say one word to each other.  They also ate with a fork in one hand, and kept texting with the other.  Ok, it’s not how I would define family fun time, but clearly I’m missing something.  I guess I haven’t gotten the 411 on the benefits of not speaking directly with each other, looking at someone’s face or enjoying the rhythmic dance of conversation.  It would seem that m.02 (my two cents if you can believe it) is really outdated and over-valued.  The joy of reading a descriptive sentence, the first class seat on a flight of imagination that is provided courtesy of language.  And talking?  I think it’s becoming passé, much like cursive.  Perhaps it will be taught as part of the history curriculum someday (which will be provided online and with all the appropriate abbreviations to accelerate course completion).

Sigh…I think my cool factor just went down about forty points.  But my cynicism quotient is definitely up.  We are short-circuiting our connections in the name of staying connected.  And I’m not down with that.  So I am SMH (shaking my head) sending you a 5FS4N (five finger salute for now – which I sure hope means ‘bye for now’) and committing to doing my part to keep written and oral communication alive and well.  :-)  Oh, that means I’m smiling – emoticons are ok right?

54 thoughts on “DIFIK (Damned If I Know)

  1. Yes. I have really seen some examples of non-communication. I sit at lunch alone in the mall sometimes and people watch. I have seen fathers with small children. The fathers are busy on their smart phones or other gadgets and the child sits and stares into space. I have seen friends or couples sit at a table or on a bench and not talk at all — just text to whomever.

    To me that is a terrible loss — but especially for the children who seem ignored with all this technology used by their parents.

    • I agree – and sad too for those kids who are raised on technology who are missing the gift of learning how to talk to each other, let alone other people. Learning how to read the effect of their words, understanding how to modulate tone, etc…Everyone loses – except the people who come up with these acronyms! :-)

  2. Eloquently stated, dear BFF! :-) David and I actually saw a similar, disturbing display at dinner the other night–a father and daughter out on the town, sitting across from one another, NOT speaking but rather assiduously tapping away at their respective smartphones, then periodically “interacting” by looking up and shoving one phone in the other person’s face to ‘share’ something! Ack!!! Seriously?! I, too, enjoy the give and take of a lively conversation and am easily charmed by a witty raconteur. The English language is so very rich and varied and the joy to be derived from a spirited, full-bodied exchange is so delicious–WHY oh why would we want to cheat ourselves? Thx for keepin’ the conversation goin’ lovey! FWIW I’ll always tune in…. xoxoxo

    • You are the best!! I just figured out FWIW – and only because I sat here mouthing out each letter.. Thank you for loving me in spite of my hopeless intransigence when it comes to moving into this new age of rapid-fire back and forth texts that say little and probably mean far more than the reader understands. And just so you know – I am always tuned in when it comes to you too!! oxoxo

      • I’m not much of a ‘texter’ myself and generally pretty hopeless when it comes to the acronyms, but I do know a few. I’m a bit of a Luddite in this way as well–I usually like to use entire words and experience the joy of them rolling across the tongue. I mean, really, can you imagine life without, for instance, superkalafragilisticexpealedoshis?! (sp?) :-)

  3. Since I can’t remember any of the acronyms mentioned above and I can’t see well enough nor text with two hands – just know I am laughing so hard right now and later when I read this again, I’ll laugh some more. Don’t need an abbreviation to say I love you and I loved today’s blog.

    • I love you too Jo!!! And because my vision is just as bad, and I’m horribly clumsy with my thumbs, tis better I don’t try to abbreviate my response, for who knows what the heck I’d end up saying! Happy to have given you a laugh…love, me

  4. You are NOT alone!! I do love email and use the really common acronyms (btw, lol) and an emoticon here and there, I recently got into a heated discussion about use of the Oxford comma. I, personally, am a fan of the Oxford comma

    And those of us who had Blackberries stapled to our hands from the moment they were invented (for law firms that accomplished movement from the 20 hour day to the 27 hour day), I don’t get texting. Email isn’t fast enough?

    • I’m with you Jill…and frankly, constantly using one’s thumbs is just another way to get hand cramps. Let’s slow things down a little – there may be fewer misunderstandings as a result!

  5. I have to say that I love your posts–they are funny and I learn something to boot–and I am thinking of banning shortforms altogether (except when I take notes as a reporter since I do not know shorthand — actually I do . means the, or a –okay I do not know shorthand). Your coolness factor went up 200% for me.

  6. I may have entered the texting world as a teenager, but I still use real english! Of course there are the occasional abbreviations such as LOL and the like, but I think it’s a shame to shorten all of those lovely words into just a couple of harsh consonants. Most texts I send end up more than one “page,” if I’m actually having a conversation with someone.

  7. btaaft – But there’s an app for that
    I have to agree, although I use acronyms while texting, really do we need a dozen different ways to say I love you with most of them just numbers. 555 = lol in Thailand btw :)

    • I’m laughing – I saw that acronym somewhere in the forty pages I read.. I guess the idea is to make sure that texting doesn’t ever replace the fun of talking with another person or writing with full expression.. And different numerical configurations for ‘I love you’ just strikes me as strange..:-)

  8. I have six adult children,all who text message at the speed of light. They expect me to text, too. More than half of them prefer texts. I make them talk. I can text, but I am slower than molasses, and the whole process of text conversation requires me to put on and take off my reading glasses far too many times for it to be convenient. I mist say, to their credit, all of my children type complete sentences. We all refuse to, ikd, go acro. ;-)

    • My sons are rapid-fire texters too..and happily they understand that I will occasionally respond in kind, but I’m going to opt for conversation more often than not. And fortunately, they have the ability to easily converse and write very well – which I think helps them professionally and personally. Sounds like your kids can also move between communication options with ease too. I don’t know what ‘ikd’ stands for, but I’m with you on all the rest!! :-)

  9. Hi Mimi, I’m with you on the texting, I will answer short questions from friends and family and find that it is very handy at times, but I have one family member that wants to have full blown conversations by texting…. I draw the line. It’s okay for those who want to but for me by the time I finished a detailed text I could have called them and had a conversation. And I do find it sad when I see couples or families that zone out during family time. Is verbal conversation becoming a lost art?

  10. Mimi,
    I do text some, but rarely use acronyms other than maybe BTW or LOL or LMAO (I guess I laugh a lot!). But I would say that the English language is very much alive and well here on the blogosphere which is so refreshing. I loved your post – it made me LOL! :-)
    Hugs,
    Cathy

    • I’m so glad – that was the idea! And perhaps to remind us gently that we should never lose our love of – and need for – meaningful communication. :-)

  11. Ok, first off, your coolness factor is never in jeopardy, ok? 2nd, without texting, we would not have the hilarity known as DYAC – Damn You Auto Correct :)

    I have to confess, I text. As a working mom on the fly, it’s sometimes the only chance to check in with friends, especially the ones who live in different time zones…BUT…I don’t text while driving or eating with my family, and my husband won’t text at all. I am totally with you on the acronyms – I use real words, and real sentences. Sometimes, texting allows for an interaction that wouldn’t take place because there isn’t time or opportunity for a phone call and I’m always glad for that connection. I resist the use of LOL so much, and I am not sure why, I guess it’s just because it’s an acronym! The best, of course, is a real-time face-to-face in person witty, soulful, actual conversation!

    And last…if I had your #, I would text you and say “I think U R GR8. 4Real.” xoxo

    • I completely agree with you on the ease with which one can touch base. But I also know that there is nothing that you enjoy more than reaching out and really sharing a conversation with someone – online or in person. And I think that’s the point. It seems that people are taking abbreviated messages as the best form of discourse, and I think it is nothing more than a stop-gap, check-in option for the sake of expediency (which in and of itself is great). I’m with you Bonnie – there is nothing like real-time, in-person conversation. And one of these days, we’re going to have it – even though we do very well on email!! And U IR GR8R…trust me on that one..xox

      • You are right – nothing better than really sharing a conversation, a connection. I guess a text could be considered [by me] as punctuation to the real thing, a bit of mayo that helps hold the sandwich together, or the creamer in the coffee…the olive in the martini… :) but you have to have the real thing first! :) And cheers to email! Thank goodness for that! And, I say U R the GR8est! Trust me : ) xoxo

      • I can definitely see texting as the mayo, and it can help to read a brief “I’m ok”..as long as you have the rest of the fixin’s for the sandwich..You are just way cooler than me babe…and I’m good with that..xox

  12. Agree with you. But maybe we’re of a different generation, and can’t understand the ‘lightness’ of communication between the youngsters. I use text occasionally. I bought a telephone with a keyboard just for that, because I couldn’t bear to push the same button multiple times in order to get the letter I wanted. And I don’t use the shortcuts, so it’s interesting to see how close I can stay to the essence. Your post provided me a few moments amusement. I enjoyed it.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the post Shimon…I just finished marveling at your most recent pictures and post. I think that is the key – not to lose the essence and beauty of communicating with others.

  13. brilliant post mims!
    you would probably like our house we sit down to dinner at a table evry night and chat about our day etc and only one of us uses a phone regulalry (my oldest but even then she knows the rule is it gets turned off when watch a film or if we eat and at night times i wont have any texting at bedtime)
    i do own a phone but i never know where it is, hubby has one but never has any money on it so like mine it becomes a glorified way of telling the time really :) only real purpose my ever served was as an alarm clock :) we dont do chatting on phones and if the house phone rings the first thing you hear me say is ‘i am not in’ :) we are old fashioned we like talking in ‘real life’ hubby doesn’t even know how to send a text :) thank you for writing this i shall keep it and i hope you have a lovely restful evening :) i swear i will go get on with some writing now :) loves xx

    • Good evening kizzylee – how are you sweets?? I do love the sound of your house – there is nothing like face-to-face chatter. We too don’t have phones at the dinner table, and more happily – the kids don’t have them when they’re with each other either. I think there’s something to be said for looking up from a silly screen and looking into the eyes of the person sitting opposite you. Wishing you a calm, restful night and weekend – with a chance to restore and renew a little. It’s been quite a week for you! xx

  14. i’m with you all the way. Before my phone took a nose dive into the shallow blue of port o john pond…I texted a bit. Longhand, with punctuation and capitalized where it was called for. :)

  15. Previously a complete luddite in regard to mobile (cell) phones, I have now embraced mine for the ADDITIONAL communication avenue it allows me with members of my family by texts. When I left home 38 years ago I would stay in touch with my mother by phone 3 or 4 times a week. In the present day, with my own daughter, I stay in touch by phone 3 or 4 times a week AND I receive about 8 text messages from her a day. I can be in the middle of a meeting or having a busy day or having an ‘alone’ day and I will receive a message (usually a query) as to what ingredients go in some old family recipe or what type of shoes should she wear for a particular occasion or what is the correct grammatical term to use in an essay she is writing. Last week she went for a job interview and the day before she tried on four outfits, took photos of herself and texted me the photos asking me which outfit looked the most appropriate. Likewise – although less frequently from the male species – I receive texts from my sons from the tops of mountains they have just climbed, from ski slopes, or video clips of my little grand-daughter dancing or singing. These texts brighten my day as I am able to share in those small and sometimes grand moments of my children’s daily lives that before the technology allowed I would not have been able to do………

    As for people texting during dinner or using texts INSTEAD of talking – yes, that drives me crazy too.

    • Sounds like you and your daughter have figured out that texts can be a tremendous complement to the art of communication – and I think that’s ideal..For that purpose I’m with you – as a substitute for the skill of talking and sharing in full ‘text’ with others, I think it falls short (not pun intended). :-)

      • Yes, I agree with you there. Also I did forget to mention that I am often quite tardy in my text responses. I know it is ‘inconsiderate’ of me to the person who texted me to not drop everything and give an immediate response. However, I actually do wait for meetings to end before I reply or I only check my messages at lunch-time or after work or when I get round to remembering. If my daughter wants an instant reply – which is most of the time for the ‘now’ generation – she does give up on the texts and rings me (on my land-line). She cannot understand this mother of hers who has this wonderful device for instant and 24-hours-a-day communication and then leaves it on silent or in the car or at home. Why doesn’t she have it glued to her person for an immediate reply? What on earth could she be doing?

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