August 3, 2009

395 words 2 mins read

BRB versus AFK

I often find myself thinking about the most random things. Sometimes, afterward, I worry about how much time I’ve actually spent thinking about these mostly random topics. Though who cares, right? Today, you get to join me in my random wanderings around the mind of me, because I feel like sharing and by some deity or other you can’t stop me. Ok, so you could close the window, but where’s the fun in that? The topic I was recently thinking about should be fairly obvious if you can read the title. What is the difference between BRB and AFK?

BRB or “Be Right Back” would be fairly obvious in its meaning, you are leaving, but you’ll be “right back”. The real problem is, what does “right back” entail for a given amount of time. The most basic use is “BRB Biobreak” or “BRB BRB” (meaning: bathroom break), and that is a minute or two tops. Other times, I’ve seen people say something like “BRB McDonalds”, and unless the Micky D’s is across the street — that is probably going to take some time. Is there a limit on what “right back” should be? For me BRB maxes out at 5-10 minutes, anything more than that must be an AFK. It’s all subjective, which is really not helpful.

AFK or “Away From Keyboard” is also fairly obvious, you are going away from the computer. This is more indeterminate than BRB, since AFK simply means that you are gone — that’s it. Sometimes I’ll include an expected ETA such as “AFK 20”, so others will approximately when I’m to return. Even though the return is unknown, by saying “Away From Keyboard” one generally expects that you will return, at some point in time.

So in the end BRB and AFK serve the same function. The real problem is where you draw the differentiating line. You could “AFK” and be back in less than 5 minutes. On the other hand you could “BRB” and be gone for 8 hours. How do you, the reader, separate BRB and AFK? Do you have specific requirements for the use of each of these wonderful TLAs? Or do you use them interchangeably? Or maybe just one over the other? Or maybe you think this is a stupid waste of time and you want the 5 minutes you spent reading this, back. Discuss.