I hate acronyms. Oh sure they shorten up long things, but they make you look stupid if you’re not in the know, “WHAT! You don’t know what the CRM is?” (followed by a stunned look). And I hate it when they’re used out of context regularly. On a news show I watch–they don’t use the city name when they’re talking about the weather, instead they use the airport code. “Oh it’s going to be a nice day in old YYC”, thus excluding all those folks who have no idea what that means–once again to look stupid. When I go to client offices–in meetings–it’s like I’m from Mars or something, “We’ll run that past the old CRS and see if he salutes it”, who’s the CRS and what has he got to do with me? They ALL do it–every corporation I work for is rife with acronyms, I’ve even seen them strung together, with four or five in a sentence. It’s like a secret club destined to make non-members look like drooling doofuses. I wish there was a law that allowed the police to taze anyone that uses too many acronyms. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not for an acronym free world, I know we need them, I’d look even stupider than I already am, if I said “Portable Document Format” every time I talk about PDF’s (unless I end it with wot, wot, my good chap).
I also love the trend with law enforcement nowadays, where they smack a huge FBI, CIA, or LAW ENFORCEMENT on officer’s jackets or T-shirts (don’t even get me started about how cheap it is to ask a person to take a job where they’re expected to put their life on the line, and all they get is a cheap cotton shirt, if it was me doing the job , I’d want a flipping crown, bulletproof of course–I’m not a fool y’know). So this big white type on the shirt, literally as big as possible, to the point of being a visual scream. I guess that’s to emphasize their authority, but anyone can go to a t-shirt shop and have one made, hell you can even buy them online and have them delivered. Back to my point, acronyms aren’t just for the authorities and corporate world, we all know what WiFi is, but I’ll bet you fifty cents (Canadian–that’s like twelve cents American) that very few people knows what it stands for (Wireless Fidelity, Wireless Internet–Who’d a thunk?). They’ve become ubiquitous, I drove my GMC to the BMO ATM, so I could go to HMV to buy a DVD (yeah, I know, nobody actually goes to a store anymore, let alone buys a DVD). They can be so pretentious too, can’t they, RSVP means Répondez s’il vous plaît or in english–please respond, so shouldn’t invitations by le Anglais have PR instead of RSVP?
There’s the use of it in texts and emails, on Facebook and Twitter, you see it all the time. People say they’re doing it to save time, but come on–it’s code to fool those parents and friends that are not in the know, concealing a message or to make them have to ask what it means, making the acronymer look superior (you big smarty pants you). There should be acronym etiquette, something like– I don’t know– maybe when you’re not absolutely sure that everyone at the table knows the acronym, then explain it the first time you use it–even if you know that some of the people at the table know it, it’s just good manners. The added bonus? You’ll keep me from feeling like a fool.