Lost Journal: Learning the Online Lexicon (LOL)

Journal entry: August 2, 2009 (age 40) – Learning the Online Lexicon (LOL)

In this age of e-mail and online instant messaging, a new and quickly evolving vocabulary has sprung up. Many new terms are in the form of acronyms. For example, during an online chat, typing “POS” alerts one youngster to the presence of another youngster’s “parent over shoulder.” (It does not, as many kids insist to their parents, mean “poems offer solace.”) Other terms, called emoticons, are combinations of typographical symbols that approximate facial expressions, such as the smile that immediately follows this sentence. :)

The following is an excerpt from an online translation guide that I recently sent to the publishers at Berlitz via snail mail (which means I sent it through the U.S. Postal Service, not on the back of an indentured mollusk.)

LOL = “Laughing out loud.” This is used to express amusement, as in “LOL – I can’t thank you enough for forwarding me that list of ethnically insensitive limericks, Cousin Bobo!” It can also indicate that something you just typed is not to be taken seriously by the recipient, even if you really meant it, as in “You look like a bloated cadaver in that photo. LOL!”

OMG = “Oh, my God!” This is used to express surprise, as in “OMG, I’m in such shock that a male politician was unfaithful to his spouse that I can’t muster the strength to type out the entire phrase ‘oh, my God!’” Those with a more inclusive cosmology may want to use the more egalitarian “OYG,” which means “oh, your God!” To be absolutely assured of political correctness, you may want to use “OYHPWOWMOMNBWIBHSOI2BBWAI2J,” which stands for “oh, your Higher Power, who or which may or may not be what I believe He, She or It to be, but who am I to judge?”

BRB = “Be right back,” as in “I would really prefer not to chat with you because I’m going to have to deal with you at work in the morning, so I’m pretending to go make a sandwich and hoping that you’ll go away.” To sound more believable, try adding letters to indicate the specific, urgent activity that is drawing you away from this enthralling conversation. In this manner, BRBARBB can let your unwanted chatter know it’s time for your daily dance rehearsal using the Alfonso Ribeiro Breakin’ Board.

WTF = “Where’s the fig?” — as in, “I have pulled apart an entire sleeve of Fig Newtons, and I can’t identify a single fruit product.”

FBF? = “I accepted your Facebook friend request, but I don’t remember anything about the party where we supposedly met, and I feel awkward that you now have access to videos of me lip-synching ‘The Humpty Dance’ at my nephew’s bar mitzvah.”

CNR = Charles Nelson Reilly.

:) is a smile, presumably on the face of a person who is lying down and facing you. There are many variations of this emoticon, such as :( for a frown, :/ for a Billy Idol lip curl, : to indicate that a recent smelting accident caused the complete loss of your mouth, and :} to indicate a fondness for barbershop quartets, Pringles potato chips, or the once-popular restaurant chain Beefsteak Charlie’s.

This concludes lesson one. Happy OA (online abbreviating)!

Tim Mollen
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