I’m having problems with phrases reduced to strings of letters

I recall the time when I was so proud I’d figured out what LOL meant, and OMG.

That was when Twitter limited our individual expressions to 140 whatevers and it was necessary to use condensed language such as “b/c” for “because.” I get that. Still, now that Twitter allows us to expand our expressions into War and Peace territory (280 whatevers), I have not had to shrink any of my phrases or words.

So why are new letter strings constantly popping up to confound me?

Even before Twitter, I was pretty good with the state abbreviations and some political ones. Like GOV and GOP and DOJ. FBI, CIA. Oh, and KKK.

After the initial triumph on OMG, I had to work hard for groupings like ICYMI and FWIW. I had a few puzzled moments over NFW but did get it eventually. WHEW. (Which means: We Have Extraneous Wahoos.)

However, I am currently stuck with a couple of letter strings I can’t interpret. I don’t know when I missed the explanation boat, i.e., when the first or second person using the string translated it before casting it into the cloud, where it hovers, raining on my interpretive efforts.

I should be able to comprehend these things (not acronyms; do we have a word for what they are?) within the context of their usage, but I can’t.

What does YOLO mean? And I’m frozen on SMH.

Thus, I was soothed by something I read in The New Yorker, when Rivka Galchen wrote about the brand new James Webb Space Telescope, and interviewed a man, obviously highly intelligent, who is its project manager:

Bill Ochs, who has been the project manager for the [James Webb Space Telescope] since 2010, was appointed shortly before the telescope was nearly cancelled by Congress. Ochs has a bright and easygoing manner…”It was very difficult and complex. I remember it mostly as trying to figure out what all the acronyms were. That’s a very NASA experience.”

So IMHO maybe I’m not in such a bad position, even if stuff I can’t figure out are not acronyms.



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