Discussing the social implications of texting

Words by Juliet Lochrin
 
…and, no, I’m not just talking about classic abbreviations like “ur” instead of “your” or “you’re”. Real talk, though: I genuinely wonder whether people who always use this abbreviation are just using it because they don’t know the difference…?
 
I’m reffering specifically to texting grammar and the way it impacts how you view and interact with others. I’m talking about the use and placement of. full. stops., how many exclamation (!!!!!!) or question marks you use?????, and—the ever-debated topic—emojis (yes/no?).
 
Abbreviated words such as “ur” are appropriate for Nokia brick phones, and Nokia brick phones only. You wanna type “your” on a Nokia? Forget it. That requires you to press the ‘9’ button three times for the “Y”, pressing three times on the ‘6’ button for “O”, pressing ‘8’ twice, and ‘7’ three times—2008 life hack: save time by chucking the English language out the window and just abbreviate. For smart phones and the QWERTY keyboard, though? C’mon, guys. I mean, realistically, what are you going to do with all the time you just saved from not typing the “Y” and “O” on your smart phone keyboard? The answer is: not much.
 
So why do so many of us still abbreviate like we’re in the dawn of the century, and (more importantly) what does it really mean? Each linguistic, grammatical, and punctuational denotation presents different emotional connotations; we can see these effects even by looking at the word, ‘okay’…
 

  • Ok — used most often and meaning is relative to the context of the message in which it was sent
  • ok — “whatever” (not necessarily said with a negative inflection, though!!)
  • Okkkk — multiple “K’s” used to denote thinking process (either that, or a mad stutter)
  • Kk — used when you’re lowkey annoyed but really don’t want to come across as being annoyed
  • K. — run for your life. The person who has sent this is probably wielding an axe and will not hesitate to fully deep fry and marinate the HECK out of you (FYI – roast x 100) upon reply. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
  • ok ! — excited but not too excited. Trying to maintain chill.
  • Ok! — genuinely pumped
  • OKAY — stressed and wants you to know it
  • Ok!!!!1!!!1! — ironically cringe-worthy and indicative of unashamed excited-ness. Often expressed by a wholesome human. Protect this quality in your friend before they become self-conscious and stop.
  • Ok!?!?!? — as above + bamboozled
  • Ok ? — lowkey judgemental and confused at you for confusing them
  • Ok?? — either incredulous and frustrated, or wound-up and ready for you to spill the tea
  • ooOOoOoOOOKKKKK — an ironic response containing a great deal of intelligence due to its intertextual reference to the spongebob meme
  • Ok… — unsure, or suggestive of the thinking process used to construct a response text, but said in a very non-confrontational and non-menacing manner
  • ok.. — as above, but completely the opposite. Annoyed. More malicious.

These were the rules about five years ago, and many ‘21st century-conservative’ texters may still abide by these rules. Conversely, some texters may use the connotations associated with specific rules to outsmart you and cover up how they are really feeling in order to be more/less confrontational. And some may make fun of the rules altogether.
 
Older generations are generally exempt from these rules, as they did not grow up with evolving technology and ‘text talk’ to the same extent that we did. If an adult texts a message to us with a full stop at the end of every sentence, we don’t have mini existential and anxiety-ridden crises because they are simply using proper grammar. People our age, though, make decisions—whether consciously or not—to convey a particular digital attitude through the choice of whether or not to employ proper grammar. Laugh all you want at stereotypical millennial social anxiety, but it does exist, and media is often the form in (and through) which it manifests.
 
I describe these overly-analytical texters as “21st century-conservative” because memes have fundamentally changed the game. Memes are progressive. Memes are the future. Before memes, I know that I used to over-analyse texting in my young grasshopper years of early high school; do I sound like a twelvie even though I’m fourteen? Am I coming across as too interested in wanting to hang out with someone? She replied with only one ‘x’ at the end of her message instead of two like before – did I do something wrong? They think I’m weird because they said “ahah” instead of “haha”.
 
Now, there are memes.

 

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Where I used to ironically reply over-enthusiastically with “HAHAHAHAHA” or “omg!!!!!”, I then high-key actually adopted the habit. Un-ironically. And it’s honestly liberating. It’s like I’m standing defiantly in the face of my anxiety (…the small victories, right?).

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Moral of the story: live yo’ best life because the chances are that people aren’t even thinking that deeply into how or what they’re texting. Sorry, grammar police.
 

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