There was a time when shorthand for texting and messaging was necessary. Before smartphones, everyone had a phone with a T9 dial pad. For our younger readers, T9 is short for “text on 9 keys,” meaning each number on the dial pad represented 3 letters. Press the number once to select the first letter, twice for the second letter, etcetera. Texting took a long time and every letter counted so shorthand was born out of necessity.
Today, most smartphones feature great keyboards that offer predictive typing. Predictive typing has become so good that there really isn’t any benefit or time saved by typing in shorthand. Still, I see many Twitter updates, Facebook posts, and Instagram messages typed out in shorthand. Why?
Phones are now smart enough to auto correct to natural language, saving you as much time as typing shorthand.
Take a look at iPhone keyboard. If you type without looking at exactly where the keys are, chances are the keyboard can still accurately decipher what you’re trying to say. The iPhone keyboard can even expand custom shortcuts. For example, you can type “bts” and the keyboard will expand that to “Be there soon!” With text expansion, you can still type shorthand if you want but we don’t have to see it.
Android has even more flexibility by allowing users to download alternative keyboards. Swiftkey is a great Android keyboard replacement that analyzes email messages, Facebook updates, and Twitter messages to learn how you type and the language you use. Swiftkey will even learn your slang if you type it repeatedly and will suggest it in the future. You can type out entire sentences just by using Swiftkey’s predictions. Swype is also a great alternative keyboard for Android for gesture typing.
Some may argue that typing shorthand is necessary for fitting a message in the 140 or 160 character limitation for Twitter messages and texting. While this may be true, texting itself is becoming less and less popular with apps like Facebook Messenger, Viber, Whatsapp, and Apple’s iMessage. These apps don’t have any character limitations and offer more features and flexibility than texting. Texting plans are a huge ripoff and customers have taken notice by adopting these texting replacement apps.
Above all, typing in shorthand makes you look lazy. Truncating an already short message with shorthand makes messages feel impersonal and rushed. Sure, it’s understandable if you replace “OK” with “K” or use common phrases like “brb” and “lol” for quick messages and to convey emotion; but typing entire messages in abbreviations just looks sloppy and unintelligent.