In this age of the Internet and all things Twitter-ish, acronyms such as BFN, FTF, ROFL, OMG, TYT, and their ilk have pervaded the American lexicon as aided by every slow, lazy, or shamelessly trendy typist on the Web, and I believe enough is enough. Sure, acronyms have been is wide use for years, with NBC, WMD, BLT, SONAR, AM, FM, EPA, ATF, RADAR, FBI, CIA, NSA, IRS, SCUBA, SNAFU, NASA, RAF, SSN, DSRV, and the names of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "alphabet agencies" being prime examples. However, today’s overdependence on acronyms hints at something negative within modern America, and I find that extremely troubling.
I first began to take note of the increasing level of acronym abuse a few years ago when I was unfortunate enough to hear a TV commercial that hawked “PBJ like you remember”. That single line both shocked and appalled me as I had never before heard the name of the quintessential American sandwich reduced to a mere three letters in anything other than casual conversation. I became increasingly disgusted as I gradually realized that my fellow Americans had finally embraced a culture of sloth with such absolute tenacity that the name of the classic American peanut butter and jelly sandwich was not only reduced to a mere acronym, but marketed as such.
Unfortunately, I can defend my “culture of sloth” comment quite easily given that the requisite shortness of so-called “instant messages” provides constant evidence of a pervasive indolence towards the full use of the English language adopted as the norm by American society. Appearing as though suffering the ill effects of some mutated virus on the rampage, the historically industrious American psyche now seems to be a listless thing whose sole pursuit is of those things which allow it to become even lazier.
If the above is true, then how shamelessly callous I must seem to McDonald's patrons when I order the restaurant's signature hamburger by its full name instead of using the acronym TABPSSLCPOSSB (that's Two All Beef Patties, Special Sauce, Lettuce, Cheese, Pickles, Onions, on a Sesame Seed Bun to the uninitiated or those under 40). How positively gauche I must appear to hotel clerks when I request a Non-Smoking Room for One with a King-Size Bed instead of an NSROKSB. And how terribly unenlightened I must appear to collegians when I request Information about Continuing Education with Technological and/or Managerial Concentrations instead of saying ICET/MC (that's eye-set-slash-em-see for Americans, and eye-set-stroke-em-see for Britons).
As demonstrated by the above, it's clear that the fewer complete words one attempts to say, the more a complete explanation could be needed once those abbreviated words are spoken. Then again, I could ignore both my better instincts and my years of education by returning to McDonald's to place an order for a BMNP (Big Mac, No Pickles). However, should I fail to follow that request with a full description of what I want, I'm sure they'd just tell me there's no charge for the restroom.
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