Whether you want to text with your grandkids, Facebook with your friends and family or brave the world of Twitter, if you're not familiar with online communication, it can get confusing fast. For seniors who want to start connecting with others from their assisted living apartments, here's a quick run down of some of the common abbreviations and vernacular you might see online and what they all mean.
Text-speak can seem like a whole other language, but seniors shouldn't be scared away by all the acronyms. Most people don't use a ton of acronyms outside of some basics when communicating on social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. And even your grandchildren are likely to keep text-speak basic when texting with you on the phone.
Here are some widely used abbreviations you may want to know about.
• LOL—laugh out loud. Indicates that the person finds something fairly humorous. Now that you can send emojis (more on that in a minute) via most devices and platforms, many people use them instead of LOL. There are other versions of LOL, such as ROFL, which stands for rolling on floor laughing.
• TTYL—talk to you later. Typically used as a sign off, like saying "bye" when on a phone call.
• IDK—I don't know.
• J/K or JK—just kidding or joking. Usually used when someone has said something as a joke but it wouldn't be readily apparent via text (without body language or facial expressions).
• BTW—by the way.
• LMK—let me know.
• NP—No problem.
• BRB—be right back. Often used when someone is stepping away from the device for a few moments and wants to let the other person know they might not respond right away.
• DM or PM—direct message or private message. Refers to sending a message between just the two people involved as opposed to talking in the publicly viewable area on a social media site.
• ICYMI—in case you missed it. Usually used to reference a previous post, news event or something else that is being discussed.
• SMH—shaking my head. Typically used to indicate frustration or disbelief.
• IKR—I know, right? Used to indicate agreement with something you said.
• IRL—in real life. As opposed to online.
•TL;DR—too long; didn't read. This is usually used to indicate a quick summary of a post that wraps up what was said for those that want the short version.
• TOS—terms of service. Refers to the rules of a particular social media site, website or software. You may need to specifically agree to them or your agreement might be assumed if you continue to use the service or site after being notified of the TOS.
Most of the time, people type online the same way they talk, making it fairly easy to understand what they're saying. But there are some words and phrases that are unique to online spaces that can be confusing if you're not familiar with them. Here are some that you might run into.
• Emoji. These are the small smiley faces (or frowny faces) that often accompany posts. Today, there are many options when it comes to emojis, including small images to represent almost anything.
• Tweet. This is a post made on Twitter. A retweet occurs when you share someone else's tweet.
• At me or @ me. Refers to mentioning someone on platforms like Twitter or Instagram or directing content toward them. This is because the @ sign comes before usernames on these platforms, so if you want to draw someone's attention to a post or refer others to them, you would use @theirusername.
• Handle. Another name for the username on platforms such as Instagram or Twitter.
• Hashtag. A phrase preceded by the pound sign. This is used on platforms such as Instagram and Twitter to make posts more findable for others. For example, if you add #crochetpatterns to a public post, someone who is interested in crochet could search for all posts with that tag and yours would be one that might show up.
• Public/private post. This refers to the settings on your social media posts. Many platforms let you set posts to be viewed by everyone (public) or only by people you chose. The privacy settings on every platform are a little different, so it's worth taking time to learn about whichever social media options you choose to use so you can protect your information.
• Wi-Fi—This stands for wireless fidelity. It just means a connection to the internet without cable or wires. The Grand Villa assisted living community in Grand Junction, CO, offers Wi-Fi as one of the many amenities every resident can enjoy.
• Cellular data—If you're using the internet on your cell phone and you haven't signed into a Wi-Fi service, you're relying on your cellular data. Depending on your plan, you may only have a limited amount each month or you might pay extra for using certain amounts of data.
There's a lot to learn and get used to online. But the internet is also a great place to research things that you're interested in, keep up with current events and connect with people you love. Start exploring on your own device, or, if you're a resident at Grand Villa, check out the computer center.