Southerners do not do shorthand.
Well, sure, we did invent the much-used abbreviations for “you all” and “fixing to,” but we just weave those y’alls and fixin to’s into masterful tapestries of wordy prose. Take me for example: I am supposed to keep this article to 500 words, and yet every month my email starts with “Sorry I went over but…”
Southerners are not short on conversation.
We have been rewarded and awarded for just that. If Harper Lee hadn’t been so chatty, you wouldn’t have had to write a 6th grade theme paper. If Tennessee Williams had kept it short and sweet, no one would be walking around yelling “Stella!” If Margaret Mitchell had employed brevity, Gone With the Wind would have ended when Sherman came through Atlanta, and we all know there was SO much more to that story. Southerners are descriptive, vivid, and identifying. It took Julia Sugarbaker a full Shakespearean soliloquy to say what she could have said in 2-3 sentences, but the passion, my GOD the passion with which she spoke. Whew.
So why would texting be any different?
In this modern South, texting is as important a communication tool as any other. However, though it be quick, there is no need to lose the formality or detail of a situation with shorthand or emojis. Should you receive a text from me, you could read it and almost swear that I was there. Just because I am not with you doesn’t mean that I should not still be fully committed to communication with you. I will give you just as much detail in a text message as I would in a phone call but not as much as I would in a face-to-face conversation. (I gotta save something to keep you coming around, and my in-person stuff really is my best work.)
Abbreviated text is hard for Southerners. Yes, the convenience of “IDK” and “BRB” is nice, but that is not how we are trained to communicate. If you type “K,” I am going to assume you are referring to my mother’s neighbor, the one that just had hip surgery. And I am going to need to know if she is okay and if she needs me to bring her dinner. K is a person. Not an answer.
Southerners are not lazy about our communication. We want to tell you…anything. About our day, what we want from Zaxby’s, how to get to the little store you found that turns monogramming around in just 3 days (I know!), or just some random gossip. Yes, it is a sign of the times, texting. Everybody is texting. My mother is texting. But my mother is texting short novellas. Because that is all she knows. She, like me, texts like she speaks. My text messages use correct spelling, grammar, and quotes where applicable.
Steve Jobs was not Southern. That is one of the many things I have to forgive him for. Had he realized that brevity was not our strong suit, maybe he would have developed a different application for Southern texting. Until then, I will continue to text miles and miles of verbiage because I can. My brain does not work on shorthand, and frankly, I am a pretty fast typist. As a Southerner, it is my God-given right not to be brief.