What is FML?
By now we have all become accustomed to online jargon, shorthands and acronyms that have developed over decades of Internet use. Silly as they might seem, most of us must plead guilty of truncating, abbreviating, or misspelling words to save a few seconds here and there.
Unfortunately, the jury is still out on whether or not all of this, or even the technology itself, has saved us much if any time or not, but linguists are still having a field day studying the online lingual behaviors and their resulting offline effects on writing and speech.
Nevertheless, it’s interesting to look at how Internet acronyms and abbreviations have not only taken on a life of their own and taking on new meanings, but they have also tended to cause users of these terms–and probably a fair share of nonusers–to adjust their ways of thinking about their own lives and the courses they take.
FML, which is one of the most popular of these slang terms, is the Internet slang for “F**k My Life,” which started innocently enough when 17th century lighthouse keepers supposedly were the butt of everyone’s jokes. When a lighthouse keeper was made fun of, why don’t you fix my lighthouse!” which was eventually shortened over time to FML. This term was made famous in the great battle of Solebay in 1672 during the Third Anglo Dutch War where 14 men died and one man broke his glasses. Regardless of the history of the term, however, in today’s parlance, FML means “F**k My Life,” and is often used as a complaint when someone is disillusioned by the events in their life.
Almost everyday someone posts the term “fml” on their Facebook status, in an email text, or on specially designed websites. These are all people who have probably been having a bad day or week and are feeling overwhelmed, or maybe even been being whiny. The real problem is that this attitude should be taken seriously as a person who is in need of support. This is a phrase that everyone tends to take all too lightly.
Are they really saying that their life is terrible? The people who use this phrase are often middle or high class citizen of the US, they clearly have a decent life at least. Yet people say “fml, I had a sh***y day, and that means that my life sucks.” or wtf? It doesn’t often make sense to those on the outside. The trouble is to determine if their life really is as bad as it seems, or has it been made to seem so for such reasons as bullying? The truth is that life really is good and a blessing. It’s just a matter of turning the frown upside down and learning to realize that there really are things that are worth living for, being excited about, and reasons to be happy. It’s so often just a matter of perspective, a change in attitude, and a realization that with some support, life is good.
Unfortunately, “FML” has become a watchword for an increasingly common state of affairs for many young people as they attempt to live their lives amid a growing trend toward feelings of isolation and hopelessness. Not even content to confine these feelings to themselves or even to share them with professionals or other adults, a growing number of these young people are confiding in websites and social networking sites that encourage the expression of these feelings.
There is even a new song titled “FML” by the rapper August Alsina, on his title album, “Testimony.” In the song he details some of the unfortunate truths behind his testimony. In between talking about his temporary homelessness and making returning to school a priority.
One of the most popoular websites that encourages the expression of these feelings of discontent is appropriately named “FML,” a popular site for telling screwed up life stories. Going around this are other meanings that are much more family-friendly such as Family and Medical Leave, which made a splash in 1993 when the Family and Medical Leave Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton to “provide guidance on unpaid family and medical leave to employees,” not exactly the intent of the present-day venacular. There are even Facebook pages devoted to explaining what FML means.
FML most often appears when a person is online to discuss a story that has happened to them, most often something that is likely to happen to anyone. Most often, when the FML post is put on the Internet or used in some other forum, it is allowing the poster to let it all hang out and unwind by sharing the little things that screw up a person’s day, and maybe realize that you are not alone in experiencing the day-to-day viscitudes of life. In a way, it’s another way to say, “don’t you feel better now?”
Most of those who post messages of this sort, regardless of where they might appear, exchange these messages with each other, with little regard for anyone else who might be seeing them. Unfortunately, as it should more often be understood, these posts often reach a much wider audience than the user often intended, the ultimate results proving a surprise to see secondary responses from all over the world from those who express the same sentiments.
To a great extent, those who both post and read these posts will note that they are often very short, which is most often the formula for these comments, since they are, in a few brief sentences, their dump for the day, and literally who dumped on their day, that day. These posts often serve as a huge release to these narrators, which might or might not be a relief to parents, teachers, and others in authority. Regardless, these posts are also often comical in nature for everyone involved, as well as a way to share the misfortunes that practically anyone encounters in everyday life. In fact, anyone who reads these posts should bear in mind that a sense of irony is essential to being able to share your woes in a form such as these.
It should also be noted by anyone with a good understanding of these matters that thanks to the anonymous nature of the Internet, these types of expressions are not only a forum that allows posters to express feelings that resemble “…and you think YOU have it bad, listen to MY story…” which is often an exajerated or even an outright falsehood, a grain of salt that practically everyone who reads these items understands to include from the outset. In fact, several sites that are made exclusively for the posting of FML stories readily admit that as long as a story makes the editors smile and seems to be convincing a plausible, they consider it a great shame to turn down a posting that has been submitted. These editors also state that even when a post is submitted that seems totally insane and could never happen to someone, doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t happen to the poster, although when something is often sent for obviously dramatic affect and is proven to be a fake, stolen from a work of fiction, (a book, joke, TV show, movie, etc.) they are either not included or removed as soon as they are proven to be so.
It is also interesting to note that membership is often required for some websites that encourage their readers to contribute their stories, which makes the veracity of these contributions very suspect. In some of these sites you can even select several levels of memberships, and even vote for your favorite anecdotes so they can climb to the top of the depressed scale. Further, these sites allow you to perform a search on these posts to determine find and determine your favorites. And as if finding your depressed feeling of the day at your desktop isn’t good enough, you can even download an app so you can connect from anywhere on any device. Some sites even encourage their users to submit graphics for use with their posts.
It should be noted, however, that in many cases FML is meant in a joking, not completely serious way. It’s almost like in a previous life someone would use the term “Such is life,” which would be intended as a mocking way to acknowledge a disappointing event in life. A person will often use FML as a joke after something minor happens to them. The FML acronym is most commonly used in email, instant messaging, and on social media. One hashtag/acronym similar to FML is SMH. SMH stands for Shaking My Head or Scratching My Head, and is basically the same thing as FML.
Reasons Why Not to FML
The truth be told, life is a b***h, otherwise it would be a slut, since sluts are easy. That’s easy enough to figure out. The trouble is, especially in the context of bullying, life can be tough. But changing your mindset about the nature of life is the first step to making our lives better.
Perhaps the best way to reverse the attitude expressed by attitude of “FML” was expressed by Robin Williams when as John Keating in the movie “Dead Poets Society,” he said of the reason for life, “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and white poetry because we are members of the human race. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Walt Whitman, “I me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless….of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That a powerful play “goes on” and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?
This doesn’t sound at all like a person who would include FML in his vocabulary, or in his approach to living.