Bruce Sterling/BoingBoing

LOL and WTF may not mean what you think they mean.

One of the most popular games on Twitter right now is making up sets of fake teen texting acronyms. We all know the old standards: LOL, WTF, and LMAO are still just as popular as ever, even if nobody capitalizes them anymore. But this new meme jokes that kids are using the acronyms for low-key texting about communism:

or Ratatouille: 

or The Great British Bake-Off: 

or Tolkien’s Silmarillion: 

The more obscure the theme, the funnier these memes get. But how did they become so popular all of a sudden?

Jokes about how various parent-targeted guides to teen slang heroically miss the mark have been around forever. Remember when the New York Times got duped about Seattle grunge slang in the ’90s? It was brilliant, and people are still talking and writing about it now. And why not? New teen slang guides still come out every month, with varying degrees of accuracy and timeliness.

That same joke has evolved over time into online banter about how moms don’t know what LMAO means. The fake acronyms have gotten pretty extreme!

teen texting codes meme TheSatiricalSquash/Instagram

The example that seems to have set off the current boom comes from cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling, who posted “Is your child texting about anarcho-communism?” in September 2017. It went modestly viral on Tumblr and was reposted by popular geek blog BoingBoing.

child texting anarcho-communism meme Bruce Sterling/Tumblr

The image Sterling used, borrowed from an earlier “Is your child texting about communism?” meme, became a standard format for “child texting” memes:

https://twitter.com/spillmybIood/status/953930593850372096

But, on Twitter, most of the memes are totally text-based. These have been around since at least 2012, but when Twitter increased its character limit from 140 to 280 in late 2017, it opened the possibility for longer, funnier versions of the joke.

Now there are dozens of these blowing up the timeline:

And some of them have scored a 2-for-1 by referencing other popular memes, like Tide Pods.

There’s even a bot by Darius Kazemi that writes these jokes automatically by pulling phrases from books to match the acronyms:

It seems, however, that some people are already tired of this game and have taken it to the next level of absurdity: texting memes that reference texting memes.

LOL. Which, in teen texting slang, means I am “Loving OnLine” today.

Jay Hathaway

Jay Hathaway

Jay Hathaway is a senior writer, specializing in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.

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