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The Battle of the Internet Slang that isn’t Completely Overused or Pointless





The internet is an amazing source of knowledge, opportunity, and time management. Where we used to have to call someone up or—heavens no—write a letter to converse, the internet provides immediate connection and dialogue with anyone, worldwide. We’ve saved so much time on human interaction that we’ve been able to invest our newly opened schedules in developing even faster ways to communicate. “That was funny!” can now be expressed with a simple “lol.” Of course, so can “I’m just kidding,” “Wow, that was stupid,” and “This is awkward and I don’t know what to say.” “LOL” is such an online staple that I cannot make it through three URLs without seeing it used. At least half of my AIM buddies have away messages with “LOL” in them. The internet is a hilarious place.

I never use “lol.” If something is legitimately funny, you get a “haha.” If I want to know “sup,” I say “What’s up?” or “How are you?” I have wasted seconds of my life typing these extra letters. Ghastly, I know.

But, personally, I don’t feel “plz” and “ty” accurately denote my feelings of gratitude to their recipient. If you’ve done something truly worthy of thanks, I will make the effort to type out “thank you.” Maybe “thanks” if it was no biggie. You can measure my appreciation in letters. Something worthy only of “ty” is not a thank-able act at all. Like, “ty for breathing today.”

If you choose to use these abbreviations, that’s fine. We can still talk. You just might feel a bit miffed that I’m not “lol”ing at all your jokes or “c”ing “wat u did thar” when you’re especially clever. I just feel that most online slang is more deferential than helpful.

Two exceptions being: “brb” and “IMHO.” I will use these, and I find them genuinely useful. “BRB” (be right back) comes in handy when you have to scurry away quickly and don’t want to offend either the online party or the in-person party who is beckoning. “AFK” is similarly acceptable, though less recognized outside of online games—so “brb” is the safer choice. It is much faster than typing “be right back” or “just a sec,” etc., and is used in instances when time is actually of the essence—as opposed to almost every other use of a shorthand slang in emails or on message boards, when you have all the time in the world and just choose to pretend you don’t.

“IMHO” (in my humble opinion) shows up more often on those free-to-dilly-dally message boards, amidst arguments or discussions of anything from jelly to Jack Thompson. It isn’t used to save time so much as it is to highlight that the preceding or succeeding statement is, as most statements online are, your opinion. In the online realm where people are quick to jump to conclusions and rage-wars, IMHO is often the white flag that can save you from virtual persecution. “In my humble opinion” written out will be quickly glossed over by a frothing forum lurker, searching for the next sentence they can undercut and smear along the walls in your blood. “IMHO,” abbreviated, is an eye-catching stamp which ensures that—at the very least—you tried to be civil.

For their differences, though, I find “brb” to be slightly more useful. Its succinct, speedy message is the epitome of what all internet slang was meant to be—and it actually has a reason for being such. It is widely recognizable and always achieves its goal. “IMHO” is more like holing up in your homemade bomb shelter as the mushroom cloud spreads. You hope it will help, but have no way of knowing until the fallout has cleared.

BRB, for the win.