What Does SMH Mean in Texting?

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SMH is an acronym for “shake my head” or “shaking my head.” In addition to being used when texting, SMH is also used in some email communication and on social networking websites and similar venues.

Texting is an ever-increasing form of communication. By typing out a message, the receiver can wait to read it or read it immediately. This is less invasive than a standard telephone call that requires answering the ring and talking, or listening to a voicemail. Neilsen Mobile found that an average cell phone user sends or receives 1.5 times as many text messages as phone calls, as stated by Parenting.com.

The world of texting has its own language including SMH for being in agreement or confusion and LOL for laughing out loud. Through acronyms, abbreviations and emojis people communicate more quickly than via a phone or in-person conversation. Thus, the phrases and sentences get shorter and shorter. Lacking face-to-face contact and voice-to-voice, texting provides advantages but also disadvantages. It’s easier to say “no” to something in a text. It also allows time to think about an appropriate response, question or phrase. This lessens the likelihood of impulsive communication in response to an emotional response.

Because there is no connection between the communicators, it’s also easier to use harsher, more unkind words. Once the text is sent, it can’t be retrieved, much like the spoken word. Another disadvantage is that often text messages can be misinterpreted. Since there’s no voice inflection to hear or face expressions to see, the text can have different perspectives as viewed by the receiver. In fact, SMH has been used to mean “scratching my head” as if the sender is confused, although this meaning is less universal than “shaking my head.”

Some think the English language could suffer because of abbreviated texting language. But researchers see it otherwise, considering it more of new type of coded language. Written words and verbal skills will remain even if texting becomes the primary form of communication.

Communication goes back to the dawn of civilization. The written language evolved some 5,500 years ago and language began more than 80,000 years ago, according to Time.com. People spoke in short sentences (think of cavemen) and the writing depicted this communication as well. Over the course of many years, grammar and composition have taken on new forms. Texting is just another avenue of communication that’s part of this evolution.

Texting etiquette is important such as when and where to text, how often and when to use it or not use it. Is it appropriate for invitations, proposals or breakups? Calling in sick for class or work? These questions raise the SMH response, since there is no formal guide to texting etiquette in this new technological world.

The fact is that people, particularly kids, of all ages are texting. Parents might find the need to keep up on the texting acronyms and abbreviations to keep an open line of communication with their kids. This texting technology allows kids to stay in touch with friends, but also with parents and other family members. It’s often used as a safety mechanism to check in.