Separating the chaff from the tweet

  • Business
  • Saturday, 21 May 2016

Smile please: Ferrari F1 driver Sebastian Vettel takes a ‘selfie’ with a fan at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne. According to one news report, selfie-related accidents are on the rise globally, with 27 people dying from such incidents around the world in 2015. – Reuters

THE other day, we were on the Duke highway when we spotted a car in front of us behaving somewhat erratically. Upon cautiously overtaking it, we found out the reason: the woman driver of said erratic car was attempting to take her selfie.

We seem to be turning out to be a nation that celebrates vanity. Last week, this paper reported that five university students fell into a 24-metre (79-feet) deep ravine while taking selfies.

Incredibly, no one was seriously hurt in the incident, which took place at the Keluang Hills in Kuala Besut on Wednesday. The five, all from Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, were on a hiking trip with 20 other students when they stopped for some selfies. Bad idea! They ended up taking the fall.

Indeed according to one news report, selfie-related accidents are on the rise globally, with 27 people dying from such incidents around the world in 2015. What they don’t seem to realise is that all their selfies look exactly the same so they should stop it.

When we were kids, out social network used to be called “outside on the padang.” Now we see, almost on a daily basis, whole families having dinner together without a single word being exchanged between them; everyone engrossed with their own mobile phones. In short, technology has changed the world.

The social media scene has spawned an alphabet soup of new words where, for example, “google”, “facebook” or “tweet” can be verbs. Login can be a noun (the blinking icon that you’ll need to register to get into your email address) or a verb (“to login”).

A “hashtag” has nothing to do with a certain type of fried potato. Neither is a “troll” a mythic character out of a Harry Potter novel. Instead, it’s a reference to anyone who makes offensive or provocative comments online. “Reboot” has nothing to do with a second kick to the pants but with the booting of a computer system a second time.

Astroturfing has nothing to do with field hockey or the laying out of a new plastic lawn: it’s a reference to the creation of a fake grassroots movement online. Meanwhile, selfie was Oxford Dictionary’s 2013 Word of the Year although it was originally created by an Australian chat group forum, the last three words also being Internet-speak.

All kids grasp computer usage instinctively and, perhaps thanks to video games, have no fear of technology whatsoever. Much more slowly, adults have also begun to grasp the basics. That was then. It’s becoming so easy nowadays that any fool can use a computer and, indeed, many do.

SMS-speak has transformed the way one writes, not always in a positive sense, and one hopes it will not breed a generation of illiterates. Consider the truly awful IMFU (“I Am For You”) and you get my drift.

But it cannot be denied that trendy acronyms are here to stay. LOL (“Laughs Out Loud”) has morphed into something so pervasive that it’s become almost part of the language although its slightly more bawdier equivalent ROFLMAO (Rolls on the Floor Laughing My ### Off) may not be quite suitable for mixed company.

And after MH370 and MH17, even Christians have got into the act. A message to the family saying “Just landed” usually elicits a chorus of PTL (Praise the Lord!).

Sometimes, however, acronyms may be so terse that it defeats understanding.

Me: “Shall we have lunch today at the usual place?”

Friend: “K”

Me: “??”

Friend: “OK-lah.”

You see what I mean?

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