I consider myself a rank novice in the world of netspeak. Other than “LOL” and handful of others, I
don’t recognize the abbreviations commonly used when texting, e-mailing and
instant messaging. I don’t pretend to know
them either. For example, when I text, I
type out my words in their entirety, in a manner I deem befitting for adults
beyond college age. Not everyone shares these
sensibilities though, including one ninety-year-old who’s near and dear to me.
Betsy, my friend Tracy’s grandmother, acts much
younger than her years. She thinks of
herself as a “hip old lady” and consequently talks to college kids and
teenagers in their own language, abbreviations and all. At least according to the teens I’ve heard,
she does a decent job of it too. She’s
built up a tidy repertoire of acronyms, including a number of her own devise!
Surprisingly, for a nonagenarian, Betsy doesn’t
limit her netspeak to oral communications.
She texts too, and not because she’s trying to act cool. As she freely acknowledges, her sense of hearing
has withered, and it’s often easier to exchange text messages with her than to
converse by phone. She employs most of
her acronyms while texting, much to her granddaughter’s chagrin.
The woman’s overuse of internet slang aggravates Tracy
to no end. She’s repeatedly reminded the
geriatric teenage wannabe that she (Tracy) and her husband a) aren’t children,
b) don’t recognize most of the netspeak, and c) would rather avoid
misunderstandings caused by utilization of unfamiliar acronyms. More than once in my presence, she’s begged
Betsy: “For God’s sake, Grandma, if you’re not sure I’ll know what you’re
talking about, would you quit it with the abbreviations?!” Betsy’s tried to comply with her
granddaughter’s request, but with mixed results at best.
As Tracy informed me this morning, she and Ron went
out last night and left great grandma behind to babysit. They couldn’t check in with her by telephone,
due to her auditory issues, so Tracy instead sent a text message to Betsy,
asking: “What’re the kids doing?”
Betsy responded with a single acronym: one which
Tracy felt sure she understood. Turned out
she didn’t though. As Betsy confessed
after Tracy and Ron’s frenzied return from a dinner party: “I’m sorry you got
the impression the kids and I were in trouble.
I thought everybody knew ‘S.O.S.’ stands for ‘same old shit,’ but you’re
the third person who’s told me otherwise, so I guess I’m the one to blame.”
I interrupted: “Hold on, Tracy! If you were the third, who were the first
“The deputies responding
to my 911 call!,” she answered.
situation which calls for the use of “S.O.S.” …
sense of the term!