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By Sheila Zanghi
contributing writer 

To text or not to text. Should this really be the question, Joan?

 

September 16, 2023

Sheila Zanghi.

I have a friend who equates texting to a symbol of crassness in our society. Joan and I met in Newhall in the 11th grade, and we have been friends for close to 60 years. It's amazing to think our friendship has outlasted most marriages and some countries. I try to keep in touch with Joan but it's hard because she doesn't text.

Early on she decided texting was intrusive and prevented real conversations. She stubbornly insists that if people think you are important, they will call you. Mind you, when I call her not only is there no answer but her answering machine is usually full and not accepting messages. She has an email she checks semi-annually and forget about Facebook. I am surprised at her reluctance to take advantage of this 35-year-old "fad." I even promised to teach her basic texting. The last time I got hold of her I slyly told her to check out my articles in The Loop newspaper because she just might see this...

Joan, call or text me!

I learned to text because that was the only way I could reach my teenage son. I got to be pretty good on my flip phone. In the beginning I was mostly communicating with adults, so I used proper punctuation and no abbreviations. I even double-spaced between sentences and was teased for doing so. People who learned on Olivetti typewriters before soft touch computers have no idea the strength and persistence needed to prevent flying letters. Single spacing between sentences was forbidden and was ingrained in us. As soon as cell phones became available our way of communicating faster brought on this alphabet soup of abbreviations we have now. It's like a new and evolving language that can lead to confusion.

My favorite abbreviation from my banking days was UTL (unable to locate) which literally meant lost. Nine times out of ten UTL seemed like a reasonable explanation to where something was. "Where is it?" "UTL." "Thank you for clearing that up." Hundreds of new and useful text abbreviations come up monthly. It is hard to keep up. Recently I've made up my own useful abbreviations. I do variations. For instance, instead of IDK (I don't know) I use INK (I'll never know), or INWTK (I never want to know). My grandson inspired me to come up with BISS (because I said so).

I was introduced to text abbreviations when a cousin sent me an angry text complaining about a situation. She said we'll talk about this later and then added "WTF???" to which I responded, "Thursday after 5." I thought WTF stood for Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. I realized my mistake as I began to text more. One young woman talked about how she taught her mom to text. It puzzled her that her mom would always end her texts with LOL. It was weird that her mom would end a grocery list or appointment reminder with LOL. She thought her mom was just happy. Then she texted her mom about an accident her friend was in, and her mom texted her a sympathetic response that ended with LOL. The daughter confronted her mom about the callous way she had responded. Turns out her mom thought LOL meant Lots of Love instead of Laugh Out Loud.

Deciphering text abbreviations requires commitment. I find myself looking up the meaning of these letters daily lest I misunderstand the text. I was puzzled by the ROFLMAO and looked it up. Later I saw ROFLWWSEP on a post. Someone had correctly guessed "Rolling On the Floor Laughing While Wearing a Sombrero and Eating Pizza." Maybe texting is going too far but it doesn't change my attitude regarding texting. It is a great way to make sure the people you care about are still alive. Joan, are you paying attention? If so, RSVP.

 
 

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