Monday, January 19, 2009



I think it all started with the little emoticons in email. You know, the little smiley, non-smiley symbols facing sideways in your message, an innovation—if you want to call it that—by a university professor.

Well, actually, while Professor Fahlman at Carnegie Mellon University may have been one of the first to use the little horizontal buggers in his intranet emails to symbolize emotions—because, as some would argue, it’s hard to adequately convey feeling in written words, something I’m sure Shakespeare would disagree with—he was hardly the first to use such abbreviations.

But, seriously, such communication shortcuts have gotten totally out of hand, and here’s the latest example: the other day I was texting a friend about a task we were working on, and her final, sign-off response was, “k”.

Huh? “k”? I mean, not even “K”? Just little letter “k”.

So, I’m not a Neanderthal (not totally anyway), so I got it: my friend had used an abbreviation for an abbreviation…“k” for “OK”.

Now, “xoxoxo” is okay in my book—“XOXOXO” is even better—but “k”? What? It takes too long to make one more keystroke?

It doesn’t take much imagination to see where this horrible social abbreviation will lead. Soon, we’ll be seeing “p k 2” (hint: it’s not a lottery ticket) for “Pick the kids up at 2.” Or, “me at s” (no, a meat market is not the message) for “Meet at Superior” (then again, maybe “meat market” is more appropriate).

And, “t” for “thank you” to someone for doing a favor. I don’t even like “thanks” in place of “thank you”.

And, “e”. That is the short version of etc, which, of course, is short for etcetera.

While I’m sure that there are many who wish their text messages had been more cryptic—Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick comes to mind—I know I can’t be the only one who is “pd” about this trend to hyper-abbreviate.

Mike Sledge

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