The continued use of instant messaging (IM) phrases from yesteryear is curious, yet the shorthand communication is only growing.

Of course, most texting acronyms were born out of necessity. Older model cell phones condensed a 26-letter alphabet onto 8 keys. This meant a lot of repeated button tapping. It was as exhausting for the mind as it was for the thumbs. IM shortcuts were a way to instantly save a large number of button pushes.

Then cell phone makers added predictive texting, where the phone could start to figure out the word you were trying to type by the combination of keys you were entering. This meant you’d (hopefully) have to press each key only once.

Did this predictive texting spell the end of texting shortcuts? There was another factor master texters had to contend with: character limits. After using 160 characters in your message, it was going to cost you another $0.10 to start a new 160-character message, even if you only wanted one more letter.

This was a rather tough obstacle, especially for those who had to explain to their parents why it was necessary to spend $5 a day on text messages. IM shortcuts offered some essential relief — a solution that allowed character counts to be slashed instantly, without losing any essential content.

Between finger resting and character saving, texting slang became indispensable.

Instant messaging platforms soon became popular on computers and AOL messenger and Microsoft’s MSN messenger quickly became a part of many teens’ daily lives. Of course, computers use full-sized QWERTY keyboards, and IM platforms are free to use and don’t have character limits. Surely, this was to spell the end of texting abbreviations.

However, IM phrases had already moved to a higher plane of importance; users’ attachment to them had become sentimental, nostalgic and persistent.

Fast forward to the modern day, and certain acronyms are as popular as ever. In fact, despite the omnipresence of full keyboards and free messages, on phones and computers, new acronyms are still being created.

Here is a brief look at some IM phrases that are in use today:


Be right back / got to go were two extremely popular acronyms in the AOL/MSN heyday. After all, users were stuck to their computers so, when they had to step away, they wouldn’t be able to speak and had to let their fellow chatters know what was going on. Now they’re really just used as a throwback.


Just kidding is commonplace in memes and texts alike. It allows the user to instantly turn a cruel-sounding statement into a joke, with a simple two-letter insertion.


Right now is part of a newer wave of abbreviations. It is possibly in its peak moment of popularity today. Rn is huge rn.


Hit me up had a surge in 2010 when an image of a boy with a sign asking someone out to prom included hmu and went viral.


Shaking my head is used to show disapproval or embarrassment. It is frequently included in or commented on memes and videos.


One of the most used and widely understood abbreviations ever. What the f*ck is printed on T-shirts, coffee mugs and phone cases. It still plays a large role in messages sent on a daily basis.


Another of the biggest in history, oh my god continues to be extremely popular. Old and young alike are quick to throw it into a multitude of different conversations.


Perhaps the biggest of them all, laugh out loud and, to a lesser extent, laughing my ass off continue to thrive. Lol is more than an acronym. It allows the user to express a reaction in a unique way, only rivaled by the cry-laughing emoji.