LOL, Words

2 Apr

I remember when I got my first computer. It was 2001, if you can believe it. I’ve never been at the forefront of technology. Hell, I didn’t get my first cell phone until Christmas of ’09, when my mom put me on her plan as a gift and gave me my first pants-kicking into the 21st century.

When I learned how to use IM programs, I was stumped by most of the abbreviations and emoticons people used. ‘Course, this was also before Google was my personal overlord of All Things Internet, so I usually just asked whoever used ‘em what the hell they were talking about. LOL, OMG and FYI are old friends now and there’s little that completely stumps me anymore. When I heard that the Oxford English Dictionary added them to the lexicon this year, I didn’t flip out. My reaction: “Cool.”

Some might question the validity of LOL as a word (OED refers to them as initialisms, cue “The More You Know” music here). I’ve seen and heard it used in so many different ways it’s not even funny. LOL is punctuation, sarcasm, encouragement and cruelty all in one, depending on how you use it. It can add surprisingly subtle nuance to what you write. No, I definitely don’t have a problem with the new additions, so long as they’re use sparingly. I would, however, like to petition to have a few words removed. My beef with these particular words isn’t due to any fault with the words themselves, but rather with how they’ve been used and abused.

Tell me, bloggers (I’m looking at you, foodies): Why must every third word be creamy? Can you not think of another word? Is creamy a word so perfect that it gives you a little adjective-gasm every time you type it? Give me more appropriate words to tell me about the texture of your food, or whatever else you’re sharing with the world. Use fewer words. I’m not opposed to calling a spade a spade–that’s the opposite of what I want, in fact–but when every recipe or piece of art or prose is a dollop of creamy delight flecked with vibrant drizzles of <noun> that just make the whole thing pop, it makes me want to stab things.

Now when I use one of these flavorful terms in my writing, I have to think very, very hard about whether it’s appropriate, whether I really mean it, and whether I can use it without hating myself. They’re not bad words. It’s just that my ear has been tuned against them due to gross overuse by people who sacrifice a personable tone in favor of a well-worn thesaurus. It makes me sad, because sometimes things really have flecks, are creamy, and give a jolt to the written word. Why use flecked when a dapple’ll do ya?

The blogs that stick with me are written by folks who write the way they talk. Almost any block of information–and isn’t that all a blog really is?–is more interesting to read when it makes me feel like I’m reading a letter from a friend instead of an essay written to impress. Do yourself a favor when you write and read it out loud. Does it sound genuine, warm, and inclusive? Or does it sound like you tried to cram as many $5 words as you could into two paragraphs about a homemade pudding? Does the mere idea of inserting a LOL into your text give you an aneurysm? That’s okay. You don’t have to LOL. But you can loosen up just a little. Plain it down (yeah, I just verbed that). I promise, it’ll do you a world of good.

Of course, your mileage may vary, and not everyone sees things the way I do. I could just be nitpicky. Am I alone in this? Have you had any words ruined for you? 

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9 Responses to “LOL, Words”

  1. falconesse April 2, 2011 at 7:47 am #

    “Gripping,” “resonate,” and “mediagenic,” usually used to refer to an intense mystery/thriller, a piece of literary fiction, and a hot author we know will be on television, respectively.

    • Bika April 2, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

      Ewwww. I’ve never seen the word “mediagenic” before and I never want to again.

  2. Hillary April 2, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    Moist. Because someone used to use it in the creepiest way possible and with the creepiest voice possible, and now . . . moist is forever ruined for me. It was a pretty bogus word to start with. This took it the extra distance. Too much moist IS bad. Who knew.

    • Bika April 2, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

      My best friend in high school was vehemently opposed to the word moist, too. I vote that it should only be used to describe cakes.

    • Caulle April 2, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

      LOL Gort.

    • Claire April 3, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

      Moist just reminds me of Moist von Lipwig from Going Postal by Pratchett.

  3. Bob. T. Bear April 3, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    Having flailed out a comment in a half-asleep fugue this morning and then proceeded to dump it on the wrong flipping post by accident, I bring you… COPYPASTA!

    “…my word is ‘bespoke’. I worked in an office for three months when some local radio station was almost never off, and I got to the point I’d deliberately cross the room and turn the damn thing off as soon as one of the frequent ad-breaks came up, just to avoid the infuriating number of businesses offering ‘bespoke’ this or that. There was one especially nerve-grinding ad with some particularly nasal harpy I’d probably have strangled given half the chance. =\

    Unfortunately, it’s probably a far more technical term than ‘creamy’ so they were probably right to be using it. But I still want to brain every marketing employee in the South Wales area with a thesaurus on the off-chance I’ll catch the ones responsible!

    ’LOL’”

    • Bika April 4, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

      Bespoke seems like a really weird word to be using in radio advertisements. It’d drive me up a wall too!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Corruption of “Foodie” « Seven Deadly Divas - April 25, 2011

    […] are nice, but as with any writing, they can be overused. And perhaps, as Bika says, many of them are overused. At the same time, ice cream should be creamy, potatoes should be […]

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