Thx but no thx

Internet slang and acronyms are not new concepts. Even I succumbed to typing “OMG,” though I resisted for the longest time.

Over the course of time, internet acronyms such as DIAF, GTFO, IDGAF, FML, and other acronyms made their way into my regular chat and texting life, too.

(I still don’t use IDK, bae, fleek snatched, fam, or any of the new-fangled words that the kids are using these days.)

One thing that sticks in my craw and I can’t get unstuck is when people use “thx,” especially in email. I kind-of-but-not-really understand when people text “thx” if they’re in that big of a hurry, but when it appears in an email (particularly a work email), all I can think is, “Really?”

Considering I still send handwritten thank-you notes, it probably isn’t a surprise to people who know me that I abhor “Thx.” Another one that makes me want to light myself on fire is “K.” I flat out don’t understand wasting a text with “K” when the O is just above it, for starters, and if you’re not 10, it seems to me that more of a response is warranted.

Go ahead, text me "K."

Go ahead, text me “K.”

While I understand we live in a hectic world where time feels of the essence 24 hours a day, can we take two extra seconds to make the recipient feel worthy of a reply, and at least spell out “Thanks” or “Okay” or insert some emojis to convey, “Message received”? In a technological universe where our phone software has automated replies AND shortcuts that you can program into your phone, e.g. type “thx” and it spells out “Thank you” or “Thanks,” the excuses seem to fall away, in my opinion. We’re not typing these replies on numbered tactile keys anymore. It doesn’t take typing 84499 to do “thx” any longer.

If you are a person who uses “thx” or “k” on the regular, I’d love to hear a case made for it. We seem to be eroding courtesy and etiquette one letter at a time with each of these abbreviated responses, and my reaction to that is,


The obligatory courtesy smile

Humans are such funny creatures. We have all these social niceties and some of the “rules” in place are rather odd.

Something I wish didn’t need to exist is that weird smile – sometimes an accompanying nod – that you give to people (namely, acquaintances or office mates) where you flatten your lips and smile tightly as you pass each other by. It looks like this:

Thanks to Kevin for his gracious demonstration.

Humorous to look at it, especially out of context, but also awkward and kind of annoying. It’s like the only way you can acknowledge someone’s presence and also let that person know, “I don’t want to stop and chat so I’ll make this weird face.” It doesn’t matter how well you know someone, if you are passing by that person and you don’t want or have time to talk, you will make one of these grimaces. I suppose it’s better than in olden times when ladies and gents would bow, curtsy or tip hats to each other, no matter the time, no matter how hurried they were. Kind of quaint, if you think about it.

Some anti-socials are really adept at avoiding eye contact and stampeding right by you, social niceties and familiarity be damned. I have worked with several of these types and it’s always kind of fun to take the initiative to chirp out, “Good morning!” or some other common greeting, forcing that person to either be a dick and not reply, or gruffly respond. It’s the little things. I feel like if I have to participate in this ritual, everyone else should, too.

There really isn’t much more to this fluff piece than that. Just an observation, something I thought I could share with you fine readers. If you can think of other social rituals we participate in, by all means, please share! Enjoy your day/evening – hopefully socially awkward free.

The Art of Interwebs Conversation

I’m all for the internet, in case this has escaped anyone’s attention. I’ve dated from online, I’ve met friends online, I pay bills online, I read online. You get the point. Me and Internet are BFFs.

What I don’t get is how the online users – that is, people just like you and me – can be so clueless about how to conduct a conversation. I’m not talking about the chat room stuff or even really poor use of grammar, sentence structure, and “LOLspeak,” whatever the hell that is. I’m just referring to two people holding a conversation keyboard to keyboard; regular folks who know one another.

Having an online conversation through some kind of instant messenger client is not really all that different from conducting one in person. The only difference is you have to be up front about when you’re not at the keyboard. The same rules apply from a real life conversation where you try not to interrupt and you reply accordingly, and most importantly, you reciprocate and ask questions. I’m going to repeat that: reciprocate and ask questions.

This isn’t a woman thing. This is just “how it is.” In order to keep conversation going, one must have the ability to take what someone has said, make a reference point, and either ask a follow-up question or ask a question that s/he doesn’t know about the other person. Even if it’s as simple as, “How was your weekend?” If you don’t know the answer to the question, it has merit and should be asked. And if you run out of questions, cite anecdotes.

If you ran into a friend in a coffee shop or someplace, you wouldn’t run up to that person and start yammering on about your woes and your life and then not ask that person what’s going on with him or her. It’s rude! (And if you do do this, I would not be your friend.) The exact same thing that is rude in real life is rude on the Internet. Yes, it’s easier to blow someone off when you’re online. But the kind of etiquette I’m talking about here is only relevant to people who converse regularly, in case I’m not making this clear. Hearing from an ex or chatting with someone who only contacted you because s/he’s bored doesn’t count. We know these conversations aren’t going to adhere to any kind of guidelines.

So, if conversation stalls, ask a question. The key here is that each person must actively participate. It cannot be one-sided. Conversation is not meant to be one-sided. I could talk to a wall if I wanted no response.

I have several friends with whom I chat online daily. We have a routine. It’s comfortable. And for all I know, this is a “birds of a feather” situation. Like attracts like. Conversation flows easily with no awkwardness. But there are times when I chat with a person and I am reminded that not everyone is up to speed with Conversation Etiquette 101.

At least from my perspective, silence/no response on the Internet is just as egregious as a non-response face-to-face. I’m not talking about if a person is at work and has to dash away from the computer. But if you’re actively talking and a person just drops the conversation altogether, or leaves the computer and comes back with no reply to what you’ve said 30-40 minutes prior, that makes no sense to me whatsoever. What has just been said is still lingering and you can see it on the screen. If I want to type and get zero response, I’ll write in my journal.

I can’t stress this enough. Reciprocity, my friends. Word of the day, week, year, life. Ask questions. Respond accordingly. Engage with your fellow wo/man, preferably who also knows and uses The Rules. Guaranteed satisfying conversation will ensue. I know I don’t enjoy breaking out my “WTF” face because yet again, I’ve conducted a conversation that has turned out to be meaningless.

The back and forth, give and take nature that I speak of is applicable to “IRL” conversations. Most of the time when people say a date went horribly bad, it’s because conversation totally blew chunks. See faces of the two people below, enduring awkwardness, especially the guy on the right.

It’s about courtesy, respect, and an enjoyment of the dialogue occurring between two people. Some people might call that synergy. There’s a reason there is an art to this. It’s not arbitrary.

Go forth and have meaningful conversations.

Merci pour votre attention.

Please Reheat Responsibly.

The following may or may not have had to do with my experiences in several offices in my lifetime. This is long overdue.

While bringing in leftover tuna casserole seems like an incredible idea, because you know, it tasted oh so delicious when it was fresh out of the oven last night, you have no idea what this is going to smell like when you microwave it in an enclosed space. Indeed, an entire small office or whole section of a large one will definitely reek of day-old baked fish and cheese for hours if you make this decision. Kindly don’t.

Who doesn’t love the smell of buttery popcorn? On the other hand, burnt popcorn smells like one of two things: a) Satan’s indigestion or b) burning hair. Ergo, please know how to make popcorn in the microwave (i.e., listen for the slowing down of the popping kernels and check that a burn hole isn’t being made on the bag).

Mmm, leftover spaghetti with meatballs. What’s that? You underestimated how quickly the tomato sauce would heat up and now there’s an explosion of red sauce clinging to every available surface on the inside of the microwave? Please grab some wet paper towels and wipe it down. The question, “Do you do this at home?” shouldn’t be asked because it’s clear that it is what you do at home. So the real issue is that you’re NOT at home and you SHOULD be courteous to anyone else who wants to use the microwave after you. It takes way less time to clean up freshly exploded sauce than dried on sauce.

Use your best judgment. If it is made with lots of salty chemicals and preservatives, most likely it’s going to make the entire kitchen and surrounding area smell like reheated cat food. Unless you’re this lady, none of us are interested. In fact, some of us may become severely nauseated.

Other no-nos:

Cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, have I mentioned fish?, sauerkraut, etc. These are NOT to be microwaved in a communal setting.

And for the love of God, please don’t use the microwave as a drying agent. A friend of mine actually had a coworker attempt to dry his wet shoes in the office microwave. Needless to say, it created a foulness that no human should ever have to witness through his or her nose.

This has been a public service announcement. Please pass along as appropriate.