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Social Media Acronyms

Making your social communication 'up to date'

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The advent and proliferation of social media have made it easy to communicate with each other. Apart from some social media sites that have been present for quite some time now, there are numerous messaging apps nowadays. They have made communication easy for people and given rise to a culture of messaging where many acronyms are being used, which has added a new dimension to the internet culture as a whole.

The popularity of acronyms can not be described with a single cause. People prefer to use acronyms instead of entire words and sentences for many reasons.

Iftekharul Islam, a final-year Economics student at the University of Dhaka, told the writer, "It's not like people are saving a lot of time using acronyms instead of full words or entire sentences. It is often considered trendy to use acronyms such as LOL, LMAO, ROFL, and so on, and if you do not know the illustration of these acronyms, you are immediately thought to be an uncultured and uneducated buffoon, at least by a certain spectrum of people; hence there is a lot of pressure."

The use of acronyms is also directly proportional to the socio-economic background of users, and as chatting in English is almost exclusively a trend seen among urban upper- and upper-middle-class people, the use of acronyms is also mostly restricted among them. This might be considered a way of being deemed 'cool', especially among teenagers.

The use of acronyms is not only limited to teenagers but also among millennials and Gen Z; it is no longer something niche but has become ubiquitous among internet users. Some commonly used acronyms such as 'lol,' 'xD,' and 'lmao' are spilling over to the masses using the internet in Bangladesh and are not exclusive to the urban upper and upper middle classes.

Fahim Shahriar Priyo, also from the University of Dhaka, told the writer, "I have been using the internet for almost 12 years now and have seen how the dynamics related to chatting have evolved. Back in 2010 or 2011, anyone using words like 'lol,' 'xD,' or 'lmao' was considered to be really posh, and as an impressionable teenager, I wanted to be quite like them."

"However, things have totally changed now; everyone around our age group uses these words while chatting, no matter whether they understand the meaning of these words or not."

He added that the context of these more commonly used acronyms is more or less known to people from all walks of life, given that they have a minimal online presence.

However, acronyms do not end with commonly used words like 'lol,' 'lmao,' 'xD', and so on. Many more words like FR, NGL, ISTG, IYKYK, and so on are increasingly being used; however, these words have not really spilt over to the masses of internet users yet and have been mostly limited to a certain group until now. But it is expected that, with time, just like how the other acronyms made their way into the common internet vocabulary, these words will also have the same fate.

There have also been many attempts at mockery and humour related to these acronyms, which many meme groups and pages have popularised. "FR FR NGL," which is the acronym for "For Real, For Real, Not Gonna Lie," is a popularly used satire often brought up by many meme pages to mock the people who use this set of acronyms to signify the intensity of a situation.

Some acronyms such as ISTG, IYKYK, ROFL, BRB and ILY refer to 'I Swear to God,' 'If You Know You Know,' 'Be Right Back,' 'I Love You,' respectively, are also getting increased popularity, as well as being the subjects of many satirical and humorous pieces by the meme groups, pages, and internet satirists as a whole.

On social media, people are seen being embarrassed and bullied due to not knowing the meaning of many acronyms. Many are trying to memorise as many acronyms as possible to fit into a particular class or group of their liking.

Mohidul Hasan (pseudonym), an undergraduate of a reputed private university who wished to remain anonymous, told the writer in this regard,

"I was born and brought up in a small town; hence I have faced way too many culture shocks after shifting to Dhaka for my degree. One of the most peculiar among them is how my peers in the university talk in the group chat."

"As someone who never really had the experience of being on the internet for a long time, I found it to be strange that they are using ASAP instead of 'As Soon as Possible.' It's not like it's saving a lot of time for them or that they are eager to save time in order to get involved in other activities."

He also added that as he didn't know the meaning of many of these acronyms initially, he couldn't ask his classmates due to the fear of getting judged. Later he tried to learn all of the most commonly used acronyms by heart, although he realised that unless someone is well versed in using them while chatting, there is no use in knowing the full form of these acronyms.

Acronyms have not only become part of the internet culture in Bangladesh, but they have a strong presence throughout the internet world. Hence, getting acclimated to acronyms will inevitably happen to future generations, no matter whether it is something many people would like to see happen.

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