This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

Some common social media abbreviations that you should know

Social media is a term that covers sites that allow people to interact with each other, such as Facebook. Of course, there are a lot of other social media sites besides Facebook, but Facebook is the big one. Nowadays I never meet anyone who hasn't heard of it. In spite of the popularity of other social media sites, Facebook is the most popular one.

I manage a group page on Facebook called Phoenix, Arizona Historical Images, and since it's a study group about the history of Phoenix, I really don't see many obscure abbreviations. But I do see them. Personally, I dislike abbreviations. As a Graphic Designer, I always wrote things out. My first boss absolutely hated to see LA CA, and showed me how much more elegant spelling out Los Angeles, California was. When I worked for Bank One, we were told specifically to never used B.O. (because it's a common abbreviation for Body Odor). To this day, I spell things out. My goal is communication, and respect for people who are looking at what I design, not my own convenience. There are exceptions, of course. I don't write out "International Business Machines", I just write IBM. Some things we recognize better by abbreviations, and there are a few on social media that I've gotten used to, and I recognize easily. Here are a few that I see all of the time, and even though I don't use them, I like knowing immediately what they mean.

• LOL. This stands for "Laugh Out Loud". It's by far the most common abbreviation used on social media. No, it's not "Lots of Love", so if you read it that way, you could become confused. It shows genuine appreciation for something that someone thought was so funny that they laughed out loud when they saw it. I can also be derisive, and it tends to also be used when laughing at someone, such as a video of someone falling down. Since I tend to stay away from abbreviations, I don't use it.

• WTH? This means "What the Hell?", and is even more commonly written as WTF? (and no, I'm not going to write that out for you). I see this a lot, and it's a request for clarification of something that doesn't seem right. Or it could be a comment on displeasure with something.

• IIRC means "If I recall correctly". When I see this, I know that someone has made a comment without really having any way to check the precision of their statement. Memories are imperfect things, I know, and this abbreviation, along with IMHO, which means "In my Humble Opinion" means that someone is sharing information to the best of their abilities, which may or may not be factually correct.

I dislike abbreviations. I find them confusing, and usually get in the way of clear communication. I also find that they can be used to make simple things sound confusing, such as abbreviations for computer terms (my favorite was something called TWAIN - which stood for "Technology Without An Interesting Name"). I often tell people that I belong to the SFTPOCAA - the Society For The Prevention Of Confusing Abbreviations And Acronyms, and I do my best to avoid garbled communication, either from my own laziness, or the desire to sound much cooler than I really am.

So please, don't abbreviate. I want to understand you, not have to write back and ask what an abbreviation means. If I see abbreviations, I often go over to a site called the Urban Dictionary, and I find that helpful. But really, could you just write out Los Angeles? Or Louisiana? I'd like to know what you mean.

Image at the top of this post: the Facebook group page that I manage, Phoenix, Arizona Historical Images.