As the parent of three millennials, I pride myself on knowing voice mail is out, texting is in. Small-talk texting is out. Getting to the point is in.
You could call me hipster communicator mom.
But then I get to the lingo and jargon, the acronyms and abbreviations used in chatting, texting and gaming, which number about 1,500, according to the technology website, Webopedia. And suddenly, I am a child of the 60s encoded with dial phones and TV antennas. I am a Baby Boomer parent with crates of Disney sing-along DVDs still in the basement. I am defunct.
Of the top 10 most frequently used texting phrases listed on Webopedia, I know two: ROFL, which means "rolling on floor laughing" and its variant, LMFAO, which means "laughing my freaking *a* off." (The other eight, FYI, are STFU, which means "shut the *freak* up"; LMK, aka "let me know"; ILY for "I love you"; YOLO for "you only live once"; SMH, for "shaking my head"; NVM for "never mind"; IKR, for "I know, right?"; and OFC, for, of course, "of course."
Giving credit where the tiniest credit is due, I also know the longstanding LOL, which didn’t make the hip-lingo list, I guess because it’s as old as the first computer. I’ve known for quite some time this acronym means "laugh out loud,"not "lots of love," like my flower child friend was convinced.
Meanwhile, try as I might, I cannot grasp even a few of the other 1,497 phrases, to include the very simple BRB, which is "be right back," and ILY, which is "I love you," to the more obscure BISFLATM for "Boy, I sure feel like a turquoise monkey" and BOSMKL for "bending over smacking my knee laughing."
I see even the most oft-used of these phrases on my phone and I have to, quick, sneak a cheat peek at "Urban Dictionary" so I can keep my hipster- communicator-mom title.
All of which leads me to suggest a counter language, one that would, a) make more sense re the parent-millennial relationship, and b) level the playing field, at least in our minds.
For example, I propose:
HRM, which is "Hey, remember me?"
TOYBNP, which is "Thinking of you but no pressure."
CYPCMB, which is "Could you please call me back?"
And AYA, "Are you alive?"
My latest is "Wowwah."
This is not an acronym but an exclamation of joy combined with a sob.
I can see this applied to multiple situations involving millennial children — for example, when your child tells you he finally got a job but it’s in Sri Lanka and he won’t be home for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
I am also thinking of lingo that is more to-the-point, to wit: COL, which would be "chuckle out loud" or SOL for "snicker out loud," each of which ring truer than LOL, since rarely do people truly laugh out loud when they’re by themselves reading texts. If something does produce that strong of a momentary laugh, then I would say GOL for "guffaw out loud."
I am thinking, too, of a specific rhythm of texting for parents, that is spelling out your child’s name, one letter per ping/text, when they’ve been especially unresponsive.
"B (ping) - E (ping) - N (ping) - J (ping) - I (ping) - E (ping)," which I imagine is super annoying. But. It. Gets. Benjie’s. Attention. Every. Time.
Text-messaging now outranks phone calls as the dominant form of communication among millennials, says Forbes magazine. Sixty-eight percent of 18- to 29-year-olds said they texted "a lot" the previous day, which drops to 47% among 30- to 49-year-olds and 26% among 50- to 64-year-olds.
That 26 percent would include me, except that I am determined to be POTL, aka "part of their lives."
Which means, in 2018 terms, meeting them where they are in their chosen form of communication and trying to reach some consensus on common language.
"Reach out and touch someone," was the slogan of the 1987 AT and T ad campaign, the year before my first son was born.
"Reach out and text your child" is perhaps the adage now. Just make sure you know how to GOL. At yourself.
Journalist Debra-Lynn B. Hook of Kent, Ohio, has been writing about family life since 1988 when she was pregnant with the first of her three children. E-mails are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.