Be Right Back

BRB. Be right back. I think this has to be the most abused phrase in the history of Instant Messaging. The problem with the phrase is that it gives no indicator of the amount of time that the BRBer will be away. First of all, different people have different horizons when they say “right back”. It could range from as short as a pee break to as long as a two hour meeting. In certain cases, the person doesn’t reappear at all.

Then there are people who are plain insincere. When they don’t know how to wriggle out of a conversation and they have someone else to do, they just “brb”. And thus end up keeping the other person waiting endlessly. Just think about it – it’s so much easier to get out of a conversation with just these 3 letters rather than wasting 2-3 sentences in explaining to the other person why you’ve to go away. Here, there are no formal goodbyes. No greetings. Just a BRB.

In the last couple of months, I’ve been trying hard to make an attempt to minimize use of this phrase, or at least minimize the misuse. If I know the length of time for which I’ll be away, I’ll give the counterparty an idea about that. If I don’t have a good idea of the amount of time my distraction will take, I usually tell the counterparty what my distraction is. I sometimes instinctively say “brb” and then follow it up with the time or the activity. Examples – “brb phone” (the counterparty knows this can take from a minute to a few hours) or “brb leak” (here the counterparty knows i won’t be gone for more than a couple of minutes) or “brb dinner”.

In the larger interest of humanity, I request you people also to suitably modify your usage of this term. “Be right back” is meaningless today. Do something like what I do. Qualify your absences. It’s going to go a long way in reducing the total amount of time wasted by the world in waiting for the counterparty to be returning to the conversation. At this moment, if i were taking an interview for a consulting job, I’d ask the candidate to estimate this amount of time.

So what did Sven-Goran Eriksson tell captain David Beckham in the group match against Trinidad and Tobago when the injured Jamie Carragher was replaced by Aaron Lennon?

Be Right Back.

4 thoughts on “Be Right Back”

    1. it has parallels but it’s not the same

      when you say hogibarthini the hogi part is important. the counterparty knows that you’re telling right.

      but in brb, the unsuspecting counterparty keeps waiting…

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