This week while attending a conference, the information on one of the Powerpoint slides shocked me so much I wrote “WTF” next to the statement on the handout. Just as I wrote it in bold read ink, I remembered what “WTF” means and thought maybe it should not be in my notes from a professional conference.
I am no stranger to profanity, but as one who believes in the power of language, I use it sparingly and almost never in professional conversation. I use it so rarely, one supervisor implored me to use it more in his presence so he would not feel so conscious of his frequent “f-bomb” laced tirades in our leadership team meetings.
Despite all my care in using language, “WTF” was right there on the page in bold red ink. Am I slipping so much that C would be proud of me (and comfortable around me)? As I pondered the benefits of a scratch-out or white-out, I wondered if using it in the abbreviated form really was the same.
After all, 90% of the time I type "LOL" I’m not even smiling. It is to texting what Dr. Hibbert’s laugh is to uncomfortable situations on The Simpsons: it just happens!
The ubiquitousness of texting and Internet chat has created so many short-cuts and simplifications of language that a unique vocabulary emerges across those media, and in the moment of shock, thinking “they really didn’t just say that did they?” I put down the most succinct response I could. The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that “WTF” next to the graphic will draw my attention back to the statement for any future reference.
There on my notes for posterity to see and my one-day archivist to ponder is “WTF” in bold red ink.