WTF is internet slag?
You’ve likely seen many cases of seemingly random groupings of letters in peoples writing, typically in the three to four characters range, and thought to yourself “someone didn’t use spell-check”. As you know, our society has adopted the notion that faster is better, or that “time is money”. So naturally, taking the time to type a full word is the equivalent of flushing money down the toilet, or so it would seem.
Now that you know what internet slang is, when can you use it?
This all depends on your target audience. As time goes on, every brand is going to gain new audience members and lose old ones. These new members have a higher chance of having been exposed to internet slang and thus have a better chance of recognizing it and what the acronym stands for than does that older group that is exiting the brands target window. Your product or service is another large factor. For example the extremely popular website known as “BuzzFeed” has a version of their sitemap laid out in yellow circles at the top of their page that lead to various categories of their website. Three of these circles use common internet slang words; LoL “Laugh out Loud”, OMG “Oh My God”, and WTF “What The #^@&”, you can probably guess what that last letter stands for. Now, would this be a good idea for an accredited news site? OMG no.
One of my favorite examples of different age groups trying to interpret what the acronyms mean comes from the TV show “Modern Family”. During this scene, Phil Dunphy, a middle-aged father of two girls and a boy, explains how he is the “cool dad” and that he regularly texts with his kids. To quote him “I’m the cool dad, that’s my thang. I’m hip, I surf the web, I text LOL laugh out loud, OMG oh my god, WTF why the face.” Which makes you laugh but also reveals a truth, that people can interpret these acronyms in any way they think is correct. Until there has been a clearly defined term for the acronym, there is always the risk of misinterpretation which can be very dangerous if you choose to use it in a message to your target audience.
Making the big screen, err book in this case
When first used, internet slang wasn’t taken very seriously and appeared to be just something that teens used on Twitter and Facebook to be funny or disguise what they really wanted to say. However, since their inception slang like “BRB” “OMG” and “LOL” have been used enough and solidified a standard meaning to the point that Merriam-Webster sees them as legitimate phrases and have included them in their grand book of words. Go ahead, go to their website and type in those acronyms in the dictionary bar. So it would certainly appear that these terms are not a fad and that they will be sticking around for some time. As the slang generation matures and moves into the purchasing power segment of individuals, expect to see this slang accepted more and more in every day advertisements and life in general.