The Acronym Generation . . . Or, TAG

We’re a country that’s fond of attaching labels and nicknames to things.  It’s our way of grouping; of simplifying.  Labels and nicknames will stick if they create buzz.  And although sense rarely factors into them, buzz is more important than sense.  So making sense doesn’t always make sense.

We especially like naming generations.  Some of the more notable generations in American history include Generation X, Baby Boomers, the Silent Generation and the G.I. Generation.  Right now we’re living in Generation Y (or is it “Z” – does it really matter at this point).  I don’t believe Gen. Y cuts it.  Gen. X was trendy.  Gen. Y is not.  And let’s face it, the letter “X” looks and sounds a lot cooler than “Y.”  Plus, can you really name an entire generation using a letter that sounds like a question?  Gen. Y is living off X’s coattails.  The whole letter thing – no one likes a copycat.

So I’d like to officially rename this generation.  Someone needed to do it, why not me.  I have this kind of power.  This cycle in our history will now be known as The Acronym Generation.  Or, TAG. 


In TAG, everything becomes better with an acronym.  Unions, restaurants, clothing stores, electronic equipment for the home, cars, even people.  Don’t resist, just go with the acronym flow.  Or, TAF.  TAF is a division of TAG.  FYI.

Your life will be better as soon as you start simplifying.  It’s all in the spirit of cutting back.

Performing unions have understood this for years.  SAG, AEA, WGA, DGA and AFTRA – they were ahead of their time.

Joe:  You going to that audition? 
Jim:  Can’t . . . I’m SAG.
Joe:  Right.  Bummer . . . JK.

There was a time I enjoyed Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Then they lost me.  Oh they tried to get me back but I couldn’t do it.  The problem wasn’t the food.  The problem was the name.  Ken-tuck-y Fried Chick-en.  That’s asking a lot of a potential customer.  By the time I actually said the name, I was finishing a burger somewhere else. 

When you’re hungry there’s no time for trivialities like six-syllable names for restaurants. 

Since simplifying, I can’t drive within 100 yards of a KFC without wanting a little white meat, a biscuit and some gravy.  “KFC” – BOOM!  Parked, ordered, eating.

What about electronics?  Do you have a television or do you have an LCD television?  And is it an LCD HDTV?   If so, officially you have a TAG LED HDTV.  And if it’s, say, a Toshiba, you might have the TAG LED HDTV 32HL84P.  It just rolls off your tongue, doesn’t it?

Mercedes-Benz has always understood the importance of acronyms for their cars.  SLR, CLK, GLK, SLK and for so many years, the SEL series.  I have no idea what they stand for, or if they actually mean anything.  But it’s Mercedes.  German engineering . . . it has buzz and it makes sense.  And to appease consumers who are having trouble adjusting to TAG, there’s the C, E, G, M, R and S-class lines.  Scaled back but still relevant, still classy.  Still buzzy and sensible.

Incidentally, I own a Ford.  Some say the name stands for the company’s founder.  I say it means For Older Responsible Drivers.  See how easy TAG allows you to personalize?

People have been shortening their own names to acronyms long before it was mainstream to do so .  A sense of importance, they believe, comes with it.  Who’s to argue?  But some are clearly better than others. 

Anything beginning with “J” is nearly a lock for great TAG flow.  JB, JD, JR, JG – catchy, regal, personal.  But others, like ones beginning with “H,” tend to carry a heightened sense of importance, if not foreboding.  HQ and HR – if you get called into HQ or HR, it’s at least 50-50 you did something wrong. 

Companies looking for ways to slim down understand this only too well.  It’s not uncommon to see inter-office memos that read “I IM’d IT and CC’d HR.”  Crisp and concise.  That’s good business.

And then there’s text messages.  Rather, SMS.  If you’re over the age of 17, you need the Oxford Text Dictionary to make sense of these things.  I recently received one from a friend that read “Hi C-U on 4 java @ CC?  I stared at the thing for 10 minutes wondering why he was texting the entire student body of the University of Colorado to join him at a Twin Cities coffee shop.

It’s easy to forget how long acronyms have lived among us.  Three-letter city codes for air travel like JFK, LAX and ORD, sports leagues like the NBA, NHL and NFL, or schools like USC, UCLA and NYU have been the vernacular in our society for years.  But we take them for granted.  We abuse them.  We ignore their simple beauty. 

It’s time they’re lifted up on a pedestal and admired for all they provide to us.

President-elect Obama, soon to be POTUS, ran his election on the slogan “Change We Can Believe In.”  That all sounded fine and it appears things worked out pretty well for him.  But real change comes from accepting the fact we have moved into TAG. 

We never went metric and we never got rid of the penny.  But we are TAG.

And FWIW – CNG would not steer you wrong . . . OMG, not intentionally.  LOL!  GTG.  cya.

Filed Under: humorLifeSociety


About the Author: Christopher Gabriel is the host of the cleverly named Christopher Gabriel Program on AM 970 WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota. You can hear him weekdays from 9 to Noon. As a writer and humorist, his work has been been published online by the Chicago Sun-Times, Reuters and publications within the Sun-Times News Group.

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  1. CG, you are brilliant. I love this article. I personally am not part of TAG generation, but I’m around them every day, so it’s sorta worn off on me… I find myself writing “u” and “bc” when we are taking notes together. My students don’t bat an eye. Plus, I’m now a texter myself!


  2. Kenji says:

    Gen. Y is living off X’s coattails? That was a good laugh


  3. unwrittenscroller says:

    I’m extremely surprised by this article. As a member of Gen Y (or millenials or whatever else everyone wants to call us), I would attest that the opposite is true!

    We are a generation that craves authenticity. We want what’s true. We want what’s been tested. This is why we love vintage fashions and reject everything that is too polished, too neat. We hate phonines and are disillusioned with the perfectionist tendancies of baby boomers. We like things to be a little rough around the edges. We avoid labels–which is why we haven’t bothered to create a name for our generation.


  4. CGabriel says:

    Thanks very much for stopping by! I think everything you’re saying is quite true. You see, if you look beyond the surface this piece has far less to do with your generation than it does with mine. It’s my generation that is intent on giving a neat and tidy label to things. Rather than appreciate something for what it is, surely it can be “better” if it has a trendier name…right? Hmmm…I’m not so sure.

    Talking about Gen Y early on – the problem with labels is that they’re always given to us by someone else. Also – writers often use humor or satire to make a point. 🙂

    Finally, as best as I can tell, I’m a LOT older than you. I’m on the tail end of the labeled group known as Baby Boomers and yet I line up with what you prefer almost across the board. Now what do I do? I’ve been……………………mis-labeled!!


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