Let’s set the record straight! If you’ve only met me and communicated with me through online channels, it wasn’t fake [it was real life]! So, let’s be realistic and use the appropriate term or acronym. What I do online and offline is real, and I can’t imagine anything is different in your case. Sometimes, it simply appears that one or two people create a term or acronym, and it sticks – even if its context is actually incorrect. Before the whole IRL phenomenon, I’d be most frustrated when people use the term “PIN number” when requesting somebody to type in that secret numerical passcode upon making a debit card purchase. That bad habit basically just ate at me because the word, “number” is part of the “PIN” acronym, so saying “PIN number” essentially was saying “Personal Identification Number Number.” Simply, it makes us sound uneducated. Of course, there are numerous other examples of these incorrect acronyms, etc., and we have all made the mistake in saying them from time to time, but I strive to correct myself and make the added effort to reverse these bad speaking habits! When writing on the IRL topic, Alexandra Samuel said the following:
IRL: In Real Life. It’s used as shorthand all over the Internet, to distinguish what happens online from what happens offline. And it’s a lie. If we still refer to the offline world as ‘real life,’ it’s only a sign of deep denial — or unwarranted shame — about what reality looks like in the 21st century.
So, What Should The Correct Term Be?
Good question! Certainly, that is up to you to decide, but I offer some options for you to consider.
- IP (In Person): Essentially, the whole intended meaning behind the current usage of IRL is to indicate when you’ve met somebody in person (IP), so why not just keep it simple and stick with the more direct [IP] acronym? Of course, some would contend that using IP might confuse others since the IP acronym has already been popularized to mean Internet Protocol. So, there’s a downfall to this option.
- MIP [Meet or Met In Person]: This option would potentially help ensure that people did not get your use of IP confused (as mentioned above). Sure, it might not roll off the tongue just right, but it would be correct and better than IRL.
Of course, we don’t have to use an acronym just for the sake of using one. If it doesn’t fit just right, don’t wear it! Let’s get back to the basics and say things right. I’ve been talking about this for over one year now, and I sure hope that more people think about the meaning of their words before saying them. So, if you are taking to me about IRL, I will simply assume that you are referencing the Indy Racing League!