For the majority of readers with cell phones and texting plans or voracious instant messaging habits, those letters look familiar to you. All too familiar. They're all shorthand--quick and to the point. Going to be away for a bit? "Be right back"--"brb." Away for longer? "Away from keyboard." Want to eat barbecue? "Bbq."
In the last few years, text messaging has risen from small trend to full-blown epidemic. The language has become such a central part to what we write that it's usurped our formal written language. In some papers, people type "2" instead of "to." The worst part is, even if they proofread carefully, they may not find the error for the simple fact that they don't see it an error. They use it in their everyday language, so what's the problem?
Unfortunately, instructors haven't gotten the memo that textspeak is okay, nor have some of us who were late to the texting game. Though I shudder to think of a world in which textspeak is like a macabre form of newspeak, we can fight the possibility of this. Now here's what I propose:
Stop using textspeak.
I'm not saying don't text any more. Text to your heart's desire! But try it just once--a text message in which you eliminate the numbers for letters and grossly-used shorthand. While it is just a bit more time consuming, newer phones are designed with auto-correct and similar technologies that do not allow you to use shorthand unless it's programmed in. And honestly, it may be difficult to do at first. So try it little by little. Drop your shorthand. Try a full sentence just once! Maybe, just maybe, you'll find you like using full words.