Sometimes I feel like I am battling a one-woman war against the over-acronymification of women’s communities. This is something I’ve dealt with on Offbeat Wed for years, but I think the acronyms in online parenting communities are even more intense.
First, let me say this: I don’t have a problem with acronyms in general. I use WTF and OMG and a million others. And of course it makes sense to use shortcuts when you can — it’s not like I’m some sort of grammar obsessive who insists that everyone type out Laughing Out Loud instead of LOL. I’m all for language evolving as usage dictates. But there’s a line between using an acronym here and there and the elaborate acronym dictionaries needed to understand most parenting forums.
A reader sent me this quote from STFU Parents, a website based on a different acronym:
Basically [using acronyms] fulfills two important needs of insecure people: first, speaking a ‘language’ only known to a certain social group serves to exclude those not immediately in that group. Secondly, it confirms the bond to that very group and thus includes the person doing it.
I totally recognize the ways in which we all use language to establish connection and commiseration, but when it comes to parenting concepts I think acronyms ultimately result in alienation and distancing. When you don’t know what EC means, how can you know if you might want to try it? When someone’s sharing a story, and they mention their LO … who are they talking about? When a parent rattles something off about “I’m stopping BCP so that we can TTC. If I get a BFP on my HPT, then I hope to have a HB and be a SAHM doing CD, CS, and AP –KWIM?” she’s speaking in so much code that even women who might be having the exact same experience can’t relate unless they’ve been running in the exact same digital crowd.
As J.M. Dodd, Chief Internet Officer of Offbeat Empire said, “Acronyming saves you seconds, and costs readers minutes as they try to translate.”
I don’t like acronyms because, rather than make information accessible to the curious, they create a wall of abbreviated language that shuts people out.
I guess it comes down to this: I hate parenting acronyms because my goal with this site isn’t to create an elite squad of parents speaking the same language — it’s to expose my readers to lifestyles and parenting ideas they might not be familiar with. I don’t like acronyms because, rather than make information accessible to the curious, they create a wall of abbreviated language that shuts people out. When it comes to parenting, I’m way more interested in making “fringe” ideas accessible to the mainstream (and mainstream ideas accessible to the fringe!) than I am in creating a secret, special common language that only my readers know.
Because when it comes to parenting, we need to focus on a common vernacular that helps us share the universality of our experiences.