23 January 2017Last updated

Features | People

Suresh Menon: DYTIWRT this column? Wdyt lol!

Acronyms are no lol matter, according to our columnist.

Suresh Menon
4 Jul 2014 | 12:00 am

DYTIWRT? Now, what do I make of that? After months of cajoling, trickery, and bribery I finally got on to Twitter last year. I haven’t checked recently, but I believe the number of my followers has crossed double digits. This is not great cause for celebration, I am told. Even Justin Bieber has at least 11 followers. Or something.

But this idea of packing as much as possible into as few letters as possible is causing mayhem. In my mind at least.

I know what LOL is and at a pinch can recall what COW is (an animal that eats grass and gives us milk – or is it the other way around?). But just as a second grader gets nervous when the discussion in his maths class involves figures beyond three digits, I begin to sweat when acronyms – especially on Twitter – get into and beyond three-letter territory.

I am tempted to put together a set of unconnected letters – something like GFCDRR – in reply. But as any tweater will tell you, tweaters are clever at decoding, their lives dedicated to finding meaning where none exists – much like the criticism of the poet TS Eliot.

I mean, that set of letters could easily mean Great Food, Central Dining, Rest Rooms, which those under the age of 10 will no doubt take to be a plug for a local restaurant.

Rather like a magician who asks you to think of a number, multiply it by something, add the age of your most recently deceased grandmother, superimpose it on your first salary and so on and then miraculously tell you what the original number was (long after you have forgotten it), young tweaters can make sense of the weirdest coming together of letters of the alphabet.

Which is why I believe that the next big confrontation in the world will erupt not on financial or religious grounds, but because someone has interpreted an acronym wrongly.

You might write CHFD (“come home for dinner”, as anyone knows), but it might be interpreted as “Charge Heavily for Defence” or “Catch Hot Food Directly”, the well-known provocations that light a fire under the normally calm and peaceful.

Of course, acronyms have their uses, too. You can imagine a question paper at an exam, for instance, comprising only acronyms. This is like food from a central kitchen. Then, depending on whether you are qualifying to become a lawyer or a philosopher or an engineer, you interpret these. Saves on time, effort and money (since money is both time and effort).
Still, I remain confused, unable to break the code I began this column with. DYTIWRT? AHFAWGARD would be appreciated. Any help from anyone who gives a rodent’s donkey, that is…

Suresh Menon

Suresh Menon

is a writer based in India. In his youth he set out to change the world but later decided to leave it as it is.