Life in the communications slow lane

I resisted e-mail until my mom urged me online. Can I draw the line at texting? 

Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff
Communicating in Boston

As I am deeply attached to written letters, sent and received, I resisted getting involved with e-mail when it took the world by storm two decades ago. It just wasn’t in me. But the pressures were legion, including from my own savvy and up-to-date mom. I soon found myself cascading headlong down the slippery slope of rapid contact and response. 

I have no real regrets. Exchanges with family and friends are usually gratifying, and I’ve earned a good income receiving documents and winging edited versions back to their authors through cyberspace. Checking e-mail is not always the first thing I do in the morning, especially when the pastures are soft and the horses whinnying, but these days I always get to it before long. There might be a new job or really fresh news from family or far-flung friends.

But I have so far drawn a line at texting. I look (in non-text contexts) at LOL (or more emphatically ROFL), RU OK? CU, or the slightly more elaborate BCNU with a jaundiced eye. And these are the positive examples. I shudder at the host of dismissive and negative texting abbreviations available – so quickly thumbed into existence, so hard to retract.

Texting shortcuts have crept into e-mail and invaded Facebook, and all but the simplest and most obvious or historical (I do get FYI) throw me. The first time I encountered IMHO I transposed the M and H and envisioned a new, personalized health-care option. SRY is clear enough, but how can it carry enough weight to express true remorse and a desire to make up? 

Even at the sometimes frenetic pace of e-mail, I use and ever hope to receive fully developed sentences, nuance, good grammar, and due care in expression. 

Fortunately I have friends who feel the same way. Their messages arrive with graceful introductions. How I love “My dear Swun” in my inbox of a morning. The message that follows from a friend in Germany reads like a true pen-on-paper letter; it has substance, depth, structure, and a heartfelt conclusion. I can hardly wait to reply in kind. Another friend, always pressed for time, often communicates via e-mail in sentence fragments, but still packs a lot into a few carefully crafted words, encapsulating whole genres of Russian literature and Western philosophy in a few succinct phrases that also somehow address my simple description of feeding the cows that day.

But texting admittedly plays a vital role in online communications for anyone not drawing Social Security (and for many who are), and seems to be here to stay – at least until something faster comes along. 

So, I am willing to learn, if not use these truncated semiotics. As a friend put it to me recently, “One reason to like texting ... my adult son lets me into his world – just a little bit. For that alone I am eternally grateful.” And I have to admit, TDTU is enough to float anyone’s boat: “totally devoted to you.” Potentially earth moving, even in text. 

And who knows? Given my history of rejecting then gradually accepting new ways of connecting, I may find myself experimenting now and then with texting.

After all, YOLO.

A few texting terms

BCNU – Be seeing you

BRB – Be right back

BTW – By the way

CU – See you

FWIW – For what it’s worth

FYI – For your information

GR8 – Great

IMHO – In my humble opinion

J/K – Just kidding

L8R – Later

LOL – Laughing out loud

MHOTY – My hat’s off to you

NUB – ‘Newbie,’ someone new to a game or website

ROFL – Rolling on the floor laughing

SRY – Sorry

TDTU – Totally devoted to you

TMI – Too much information

TX – Thanks (also THX)

TTYL – Talk to you later

XOXO – Hugs and kisses

YOLO – You only live once

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Life in the communications slow lane
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today