PR in the Age of Shortening: Should we join ’em if we can’t beat ’em?
It all started with business casual. Somewhere along the line, it became too exhausting for us worker bees to type out all those letters and say all those syllables when discussing dress code, so we came up with “biz cas” (or is it caj?). Before long we’d begun abbreving errything. (I’m making this up, of course — language and abbreviations have gone hand in hand for centuries.)
Now that we’re hip-deep in the information age, there’s no wading back to shore. In striving to communicate as efficiently as possible, we’ve become a society of professionals who know what FWIW and IMO and WRT mean. We end our emails with “Thx” or, worse, “Tx.” We use hashtags #strategically. We type with our thumbs in all lowercase letters because it’s quicker that way. We are all slowly developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
The other day, my colleague was griping about how one of her clients used “yer” in place of “your” in an email. In my stauncher years of grammatical superiority, this sort of thing might have aggravated me, but because my husband has a tendency toward the even-more-dreadful “yr” — especially when texting — I’ve gotten used to it. (I may even cave to texting “yr” on occasion. Call the punctuation police!) So I shrugged and said, “This is the world we live in.” (A dangling preposition — send in the grammar guards!)
This Age of Shortening is full of abbreviations that must make William Strunk shake his fist from the grave. The question is: Do we go with the flow and join those abbreviators we clearly can’t beat? Or do we sit upright and uptight at our desks, demanding justice for the wrongly acronym’d?
IM(H)O, a balance must be struck. A few mantras to keep in mind as you navigate this wacky world of YOLO and FOMO and Miley Cyrus and Morgan Freemarks:
- Be professional — don’t sling around casual language unless you know the person on the other end (and you know they won’t be bothered by it). Don’t address a group as “you guys,” you guys.
- Be mindful that not everyone is as smart as you — no one likes a grammar bully.
- Be aware — someday you’re going to need to know how to pitch a story using only Emoji.
- And be strong — people are doing crazy things like shortening the word “the,” and it’s going to take serious stamina to not spontaneously combust.
We’ll get through this together.
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