Be ITK: Social Media Acronyms You NTK

Social media acronyms keep changing. You need to know which ones are now and which ones have become so then. Here's a quick guide for you!


Grammar Nazis might consider stepping down. Social media is evolving a language of its own – one with heavy doses of acronyms and abbreviations that slowly claw their way into day-to-day conversations, some even making it to the Oxford Dictionary. Social media acronyms are taking over. Deal with it.

Case in point: selfie. The world of social networking is incredibly dynamic, what’s in vogue today is given a silent burial the next day, and online lingo is not immune to this phenomenon. New words, slangs and acronyms emerge every day even as the old ones wither away. The latest casualty is ‘lol’. Yes, the hideous expression of amusement is fading away and the English language has been saved, say some.

Dead, we tell you. DEAD! hahahaha! See? Not lol, hahahaha!

A recent analysis of data collected from Facebook points out that people prefer to use variants of the good-old ‘haha’ to express their amusement or convey laughter instead of laughing-out-loud (or saying LOL, LOLL or LOLz). The analysis based on data collected from the social networking site in the last week of May indicates that only 1.9 percent of the users still used LOL while a whopping 51.4 per cent preferred using ‘haha’ as an expression of amusement. If you are still LOLing or ROFLing on social media, you could use a lesson or two on the hottest trend in the online lingo and slangs. Here is a guide to the most in vogue acronyms for 2015:

YOLO: You Live Only Once

  • YOLO: You Live Only Once. The acronym is a reflection of the play-hard-live-fast culture and is used for someone who likes to live over the edge.
  • GIFs: Graphics Interchange Format. Though it is a technical term, GIF is used to describe moving images that are being used in a big way in web articles and stories, and has thus become mainstream internet slang. ‘Gifs that keep on giving’ makes a pun on ‘gifts’ and should be appreciated by language lovers.
  • KOS: Kill on Sight. The acronym has its roots in the culture of war-based online games and suggests that a person is marked for death by just making an appearance. Like ‘Shoot At Sight’.
  • CNBU: Cannot Be Unseen. It is usually used to refer to something scandalous or hideous that is likely to stay fresh in your memory for a long, long time. This usually also leads to demand for ‘brain bleach’ – pictures of kittens and puppies doing cute things to try to scrub it out of your mind.


  • Trolls/Trolling: With so many people being mocked and jeered at on social media, trolling has become popular internet slang. The urban dictionary defines trolling as “the art of deliberately, cleverly, and secretly pissing people off, usually via the internet, using dialogue”. People who indulge in such disparaging remarks are called trolls.
  • FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. It is used to describe people who have a compulsive habit of repeatedly checking their social media accounts to keep a constant track of updates on their Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts.
  • SHM: Shaking My Head. The online version of expressing your disbelief, disagreement and disapproval at something outrageous or unflattering.
  • IRL: In Real Life. Saying IRL is usually an expression to concede to the disconnect between one’s online and real life.
  • POIDH: Pictures Or It Didn’t Happen. This refers to tall tales or fun incidents where you need to back it up with pictures, and is often said because people want to see funny pictures.
  • SNH: Sarcasm Noted Here. The term is used after making a sarcastic remark in an online conversation to make the real meaning of your statement apparent.

Cultural Appropriation of AAVE

Besides these popular acronyms, a large number of African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) expressions are being passed off as emerging internet slangs. The internet is heavily borrowing words from AAVE that was once denigrated and viewed with contempt. While the world is trying to patronize terms such as ‘bae’, ‘twerk’ and ‘on fleek’, passing them of as the creation of the online world, the truth remains that these words have been popular in a several black communities for years. Every once in a while, such popular AAVE words are picked by the mainstream communities, abused with overuse until the fascination around them dies and then given a silent burial. Many sociological experts view this as an extension of society’s blatant approach of treating the black culture as largely disposable.

While you definitely want to keep your online conversation hip, it is best to avoid terms and words that may be offensive to another community.

By the way: ITK is ‘In The Know’ and NTK is ‘Need To Know’. Now you know!

Pics via Flickr

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