Getting Toned

Updated: Sep 3

by SABRINA RICHARD (PR Lead) - August 31, 2021 - the importance of using tone indicators


Say you're in a group chat and you make what you and your friends would see as, obviously, a joke. However, to a random person in the chat, they could take it seriously or offensively. To avoid this altogether, you could use tone indicators.


Tone indicators are added to the end of sentences to convey intention. You may see them popping up in group chats and comment sections. It seems tone indicators are here to stay as so many writers use them to have a bit more coverage and clarity while posting on social media. It prevents possibly awkward or harmful moments where words are left up to interpretation because interpretation can have offensive or negative connotations.


You should start using them too!


The most common is following a statement with "/j": this is used to clarify that the intention of the statement is a joke.


Words may come across as harsher than they actually are intended to be: “/t” (teasing) or “/lh” (lighthearted) could help fiend off awkward bumps in conversation.


People often run into a problem when sarcasm doesn’t come across in text, but by using the "/s" tone indicator, you can convey sarcasm. On the flipside, “/srs” or “/gen” is used to state that the comment is serious or genuine.


Sometimes flirty friends need to be put in their place: easily friendzone someone with the “/p” for platonic. Or if you have a VERY oblivious crush you could always use “/r” if you want to make a statement romantic.


Comment sections can especially become a tangle of snark and attitude, but tone indicators can help clarify snotty spammers from perplexed people. “/rh” and “/rt” are both used for rhetorical questions. “/g” or “/gen” is for genuine questions.


"/m" and "/li" are commonly used to help with clarification. "/m" means metaphorical; "/li" means literally.


"/hj" (half-joking) is sometimes used, but in text it is important to strive for comprehensive understanding. If you are communicating something that could be taken seriously and negatively, you probably shouldn't "kinda, maybe, sorta, half-joke" about it. "/hj" is mostly reserved for semi-rhetorical questions, "what? Not everyone breathes?/hj" but for clarification purposes it could better be replaced with "/s" or "/m" in case the wrong part of the joke is taken seriously.


Some less commonly used, but situationally important tone indicators could be "/nm" (not mad), "/ly" (lyric, /neg (negative connotation, /pos (positive connotation), "/c" copypasta, and "/cb" clickbait.


Introducing tone indicators into your daily social media use can not only help save you in the future but also clarify your meaning in the present. Why stop at comment sections? /rh Using them in text conversations with casual acquaintances, or in professional and formal situations can help convey clarity. Communication is all about clarity and tone indicators could be a part of that.


I started small, just adding "/j" or "/s" when making comments on random social media content. Then, in text conversations. I've tried to incorporate "/g" for Twitter threads and "/lh" when with new friends. Not every meme or text message needs a tone indicator, but they can be helpful for clarity.