Friday, January 30, 2009


This really gets my goat. I have several friends and family (whom I adore!) who use this term often in text messages, emails, and even in the spoken language. Now, to me, to actually speak the word “’kay” (short for okay) is, in my opinion, a slight dismissal toward the person with whom you are conversing. For example:

Me: “Did you remember to put away your gym bag?”
They: “No.”
Me: “Can you please do this for me now?”
They: “’kay…”

The word “’kay” is usually muttered under the breath and accompanied by an eyeroll. This type of behavior is most often associated with my teenager, to which I usually respond with a matronly sigh conveying my annoyance that I am being dismissed .

To read this as a text is equally unnerving. For example:

Me: “hey there. just wondering if we were planning to go out 4 dinner 2morrow.”
They: “yes!”
Me: “call me and we will line up details. lookin 4ward 2 it”
They: “k”

What is that??? Better yet, there is this:

They: “k np” (this stands for “k” “no problem”, which is short for “Okay, no problem”)

“K” might, to the sender, be communicating in the affirmative. It indicates that they have received and analyzed your message and they will react to it. But in my translation, I view the word “k” is that the person I am conversing with doesn’t even have the time to spell out “OK”, much less the full word “okay”. And with no accompanying body language, it is hard to even place the letter “k” into any kind of emotional context. Does it mean, “Hey, that is really great!” or does it dismissively say “Whatever…” ? To me, the word “k” in a text is the same as an “emoticon eyeroll” – you know, one of those little smiley faces where the yellow-faced image looks frustrated? “k” is dismissive and tells me that you don’t even have one extra second to waste on me for you to type one other letter – perhaps, like the letter “o” in front of it.

If you don’t have the time to text “ok”, then I don’t have the time to text you back.

Computers and cell phones and email and text messaging are destroying the way we communicate. It takes away an element of human interaction and lessens the level of personal contact. I feel it strips away some element of emotional interaction and replaces it with some kind of gobbledy-gook DOS language that only allows robots and computers to speak to one another. Perhaps, in a small way, maybe that is what we are becoming: a society of robots and computers interacting. To me, this level of communication simply “does not compute”.

With the advent of blogs and Facebook and My Space, Twitter, and Flickr, we are able to speak and represent ourselves in words and images. We brag about the multitudes of ways that we are now able to connect and to reconnect via technology and cyberspace but let’s not forgot the most important way we connect with others: With feeling. With emotion. With compassion. With passion.

I am not recommending that we give up the means in which we communicate but maybe we should simply MEAN what we communicate. If it is “okay”, then it is ok but it isn’t “k”. Don’t take a shortcut if you are speaking to another individual. It is disrespectful and they may not appreciate it. So before you flip the letter “k” my (or anyone else’s) way, think about how it is being interpreted. You may not be giving it a second thought but I will guarantee that the person on the receiving end might be thinking pretty hard about it.

In the words of Forrest Gump – perhaps the most effective communicator in his own unique way, “And that’s all I have to say about that.”

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