Monday, April 21, 2008

The Blatant Overuse of LOL, ROFLOL and Other Electronic Acronyms

I recently got an e-mail from a friend with the following acronym in it: FMTYEWTK. Not being a frequent acronym user, I was a little confused as to what he was trying to tell me. Later in the letter he also used LSHMBH and WYSITWIRL, which made me wonder if I needed some kind of special Superhero Decoder Ring in order to translate his message. I realize we live in a world that is moving too fast, and people just don’t have time to write out entire sentences anymore, but come on!!! What the hell am I supposed to make of a bunch of letters strung together in a nonsensical fashion unless I’m already privy to the secret language it’s composed in?

I think some e-mail, text message and IM users have forgotten that some of us still live in the real world where communication means using actual words and phrases instead of generic fillers like LOL (laugh out loud) and ROFLOL (rolling on the floor laughing out loud). These two acronyms have been used so often, you’d think we had a nation of giddy idiots. Every time I see ROFLOL used in blog postings or in e-mails, I immediately begin to imagine what the person looks like as he’s rolling on the floor laughing so hard. And if he uses the abbreviation more than once in a paragraph, I’m tempted to call the local Psych Ward to go check him out. After all, if someone can’t control themselves from falling on the floor in a fit of laughter, they may have something akin to epilepsy, which is certainly nothing to laugh at.

And I also don’t think everything that someone says or thinks is LOL funny. I rarely laugh out loud, except in the privacy of my own home. So when someone describes their day, and uses the LOL acronym after every sentence, I begin to wonder how good their sense of humor actually is. “I went to see my mother. LOL. She was in the hospital. LOL. The nurse was very cute. LOL. I ate all her Jell-O cubes. LOL. She got mad at me. LOL. Told me never to come back unless I brought ice cream. LOL.” As with everything, less is more.

Another variation of this acronym is ROTFLMAOWPIMP, which literally means “Rolling on the floor laughing my a** off while peeing in my pants.” I don’t think I need to tell you what kind of colorful imagery that phrase invokes.

Students and twenty-somethings are probably the biggest abusers of this new form of electronic language, because they’re the ones obsessed with text-messaging their friends at every opportunity they get. A visit with my nieces now means frequent interruptions in our conversation; because they must constantly respond to the other five “text” conversations they’re having at the same time. Undivided attention appears to be a thing of the past, as multi-tasking conversations is now the “new Black.”

I guess I wouldn’t mind all the acronyms, if they were short and made sense. But right now, it takes so much time to figure out what each letter means that reading a simple one-paragraph e-mail might require a half hour of deciphering. Especially for someone like me, who falls into the “PCMCIA” category (People can’t master computer industry acronyms). And don’t get me wrong, I love a mystery. I just don’t think every e-mail should be akin to solving the Sunday Junior Jumble.

At any rate, I felt the need to expound on this topic for some reason. So for those of you who are also a little shaky when it comes to cracking an acronym, here are the meanings of the various phrases in the first paragraph. LSHMBH means “Laughing so hard my belly hurts” (Maybe you should go see a doctor about this) and WYSITWIRL means “What you see is TOTALLY WORTHLESS IN REAL LIFE!” (I can’t even imagine ever having the need to use this phrase, so I’m still not sure what my friend was trying to convey with it either.)

But perhaps the most important acronym is the very first one, FMTYEWTK, which means “Far more than you ever needed to know,” a clear reference to how I feel about the content of this post.

But that’s just me. What do you think about the overuse of acronyms?


NicoleB said...

Grin - I caught myself using LOL far too often.
But I don't like it - at all.
I'm at a total loss for most of these short thingies.
A friend of mine writes sms really the way that you can barely figure them out. And she's an english teacher.


zoom56okdavid said...

Well I make the commitment to displaying my humor and write the full Hahahahaha!

Dave from

Henson Ray said...

Nicole and Dave--thanks for stopping by.

I find that I use "heh, heh" instead of LOL. At least then, people know I am only laughing twice, and not rolling on the floor like a hyena.

Blue Boy said...

Well IMHO, FWIW, overuse of acronyms is just as bad as abuse of exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Henson Ray said...

Duly noted.

Waterrose said...

ok, you made me laugh....that's it...just laugh.

NicoleB said...

But I love my exclamation marks ;)

Lady Language said...

They confuse me and I never know what people are saying anymore. I do use LOL and ROFL often because it's my way of confirming how hilarious I thought the blogger or comment was without them being able to see my response.

Henson Ray said...

Lady Language--feel free to use LOL and ROFLOL as often as you like when commenting on my posts. I am always happy to have giddy readers.

Mrs Mecomber said...

ROFL!!!! WOOA????
What overuse of acronyms?

DineometerDeb said...

Oh, I am so glad someone finally said this out loud. Well, sort of out loud. I am sure there is an acronym for this.

Daisy said...

I was hoping I could make the acronym ROFPWMT popular. It stands for "Rolling on the Floor Playing with my Toys." So far, it has not caught on.

Henson Ray said...


I am glad you recognize what a brave and courageous thing it was to expose this ever-mounting problem. And I will be fearless in my pursuit of other such electronic atrocities in the future. (Written with a very deadpan expression.)

Henson Ray said...


Another unpopular acronym in a similar vein that has not caught on is FTPUMTARAIT, or "Forgetting to pick up my toys after rolling around in them."

Mrs. MeComber,

It actually took me a minute to figure out that WOOA was the acronym for what was written underneath it. I am nothing if not completely dense sometimes. Thanks for stopping by.

Lisa said...

Very funny!! I am thankful for your blog because someone just posted to my FB page saying lshmbh and I had no idea what it meant! I am online often and have never seen that one before now so thank you for "teaching me".

Personally I would rather stick with the old, short ones if any. What was wrong with TMI that someone had to come up with FMTYEWTK anyhow?!

Thanks again!

Henson Ray said...

Lisa--glad I could "educate you" a little...heh, heh...although I am still confused by most of the acronyms that people send me. I figure if they don't have the time to write out their entire thought, I don't have the time to figure out what they were trying to say.

Jordyn said...

I've stopped using "lol". (This isn't entirely true, but I'm giving myself a negative point every time i use it... not quite sure what all the negative points will add up to but I guess that's not the point.) It's INSANELY overused, even among those of us students/twenty-somethings who actually (like me and most of my friends do) chat and text with accurate punctuation/grammar. I think it's actually become a way (after saying something serious) to kind of add "this isn't THAT serious" or after an insult to say "just kidding". Or after something funny "I think this is funny and you should too."

Henson Ray said...

Jordyn--Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I think you're right. LOL has replaced "Just Kidding" as a way for people to make a joke of something insulting they just said to you. LOL. (Opps---couldn't help myself)