Two zeitgeisty acronyms have been brought to my attention: FOMO, fear of missing out, and FONSY, fear of not saying yes. As acronyms generally are, they’re a little smug in their too-neatness but very satisfying, too. They’re satisfying because they roll several words into one and somehow encapsulate (middle classes do like to encapsulate) something that otherwise needs a rambling explanation. In all areas of life, from our food to our homes to our newspapers, we enjoy compact, distilled, essential versions of things. And it seems we want our moods reduced down to a nugget, too. Acronyms like FOMO and FONSY are the result of a syndrome being articulated from a vague mood, then reduced to a slightly more cogent idea, reduced again to an essence. They’re moods, triple distilled.
Good acronyms are lovely to use and have a comfortable place in middle-class texts, Facebook updates, tweets and articles. But a bad acronym – say, one that creates a word that’s hard to say or is just too try-hard – can irritate more than it will satisfy. And beware the acronym’s less interesting sibling, the initialism. These are just abbreviations you have to spell out; they don’t form words (BBC, USA, CEO etc.). Our advice is, if you’re going to coin an acronym, keep true to form and distil down an entire concept into one great word. Any good or bad acronyms you’d care to share?