TMI

I like initialisms. I use them often in spoken and written word.

Initialisms are often mistaken for acronyms. Though they both serve to abbreviate, initialisms and acronyms are as different as the words “bring” and “take.”

Don’t get me started on bring and take. OK. Too late.

Both “bring” and “take” are verbs that mean “to carry something.” If used correctly, the words imply opposing directions in travel.

“Take” moves something away from the speaker. “Bring” moves something toward the speaker. In other words, you bring a gift to me and take a gift to her.

A flawless grammarian I am not, but those who verbally insist on“bringing a gift to her” are driving me crazy.

If I stick to initialisms and acronyms, my sanity may prevail. Initialisms are letter abbreviations that shorten a phrase. Acronyms are also letter abbreviations used to shorten phrases, but a true acronym is an abbreviation that we pronounce as a word.

“RAM” (Random Access Memory) and “NASA” (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) are acronyms. We enunciate the words made by individual letters to form the two abbreviations.

“ATM” (Automated Teller Machine) and “DVD” (Digital Video Disk) are initialisms. We speak each letter of the abbreviations.

A man gets the blame for putting me on this rant—a minister, no less. He talked of today’s sensory overload of information and how it affects us. The stats he listed made my head ache.

The average person checks his phone 80 times a day. Ten percent of individuals polled admitted they glance at their screens up to 300 times a day. (How they kept count remains a mystery.)

In 2017, people logged four hours per day on mobile phones and/or tablets. Studies found that people check their email at least 15 times in a 24-hour period, and 149,543 emails are sent each minute.

Office workers receive, on average, 121 emails per day. I’m not an office worker, but I now understand why my delete key feels like a best friend.

Millennials exchange around 110 texts per day. Employees are interrupted by their mobile devices every two minutes.

The burden of all these statistics weighed me down. Is society being buried alive by the enormity of information now available at the press of a button?

All I could think was, “TMI” as in Too Much Information. TMI is an initialism, by the way. I use it often.

Initialisms and acronyms share a common thread with bring and take: key differences are fading due to widespread misuse. Initialisms are being swallowed up by the term “acronym,” and the definition of “take” is vanishing in the much too widely accepted misuse of “bring.”

If a word is used incorrectly for a long, long time by a vast majority of people, dictionaries start rewriting its meaning. That’s kind of how the English language continues to evolve, I guess, but I’m not a fan.

After hearing the cold, hard facts related to everyday mobile device use, TMI has taken on an onerous meaning. Just pondering on how addicted we’ve become to our phones makes me think, “LHP” as in “Lord Help the People.”

LHP is not blasphemous. It’s an initialism for a genuine prayer for a specific person or persons. When I type “LHP” or say “Lord Help the People,” I mean it in the most literal sense.

Ask any one of my family members. Ask my friends. Ask my former tennis players from when I coached high school tennis. All will agree that “LHP” is just me praying—sometimes for me.

My favorite initialism is LYMI as in “Love You, Mean It.” I’ve lost count of how often I say or type LYMI, but I hope I use it more than the average person checks his cell phone screen.

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