If you’ve been online or got a text message with SMH used in it, don’t let it bother you. It’s a known internet acronym used in social media posts or text messages to convey the physical body language of “shaking my head” in resignation, disappointment, dissatisfaction, frustration, and/or disbelief.
And while “shaking my head” is the most widely used definition for SMH, it may have a few different meanings depending on the context.
How SMH Is Used?
It may be in reaction to someone else’s actions, an incident that took place, or the state of the situation. Usually, the issue involves something that a person wants to respond to but is at a loss for the right words to use. That being said, in real life, the only reasonable response is to shake your head. As a consequence, the use of “smh” as a response.
If you are exchanging text messages with someone and getting an “SMH” text, look at the context and see if the person means “Shaking My Head.” A person is going to show dismay by shaking his head when someone says or does something dumb. When you get “SMH,” that doesn’t actually mean that your correspondent says you did or said anything dumb. The writer may be reacting to the actions of someone else you’re talking about.
When someone asks you a question, and you’re not sure of the answer, or you need some time to think, you might physically scratch your head to signify the process of thinking. People also type “SMH” to mean “Scratching My Head” in a text message to let everyone else know that they are contemplating the subject of the conversation. You may need to wait a while to get the next text message, while the other person is thinking about what to write next.
Disappointment and Irritation
In some situations, “SMH” in the text message is meant to stand for “Smack My Head.” An individual will write “SMH” to show that he or she is so annoyed or disappointed by something that someone has done or said, that the only reaction is to strike his or her head with annoyance or frustration.
Examples of SMH
SMH is intended to convey a real-life gesture or action that cannot be seen from behind the screen. That’s why SMH in messages and posts will normally follow the expression of literally shaking your head in disappointment. Considering that there is actually no emoji or emoticon representing this gesture, SMH is still very common in texting and tweeting.
Depending on the context, SMH may be used in a funny way or as a genuine representation of disappointment.
If you really don’t know how to use SMH, here are a few examples of SMH being used in a sentence:
- “The neighbors are partying late again while I’m trying to sleep SMH.”
- “SMH who buys a T-shirt for $500? Some people have money to burn…”
- “You’d think my cat would appreciate this expensive tuna SMH but apparently it’s not good enough.
- “My boyfriend thinks Yoda is from Star Trek. SMH I’ve failed in my nerdy duties.”
Using SMH the Right Way
There are no strict rules for using this acronym at all. You may type it in all uppercase letters, all lowercase letters, with a phrase, or on its own.
What you really need to consider is that SMH is used to emphasize a more expressive response that words alone cannot really articulate. And besides, “smh” is a lot easier and simpler than saying, “I’m shaking my head in disbelief,” or something like that.
If you want to do it yourself, bear in mind that not everyone will know what it means—especially older adults and people who only use the internet/social media on a very casual basis. Take into account the people you interact with and your interaction with them to predict whether or not they would be able to easily understand the sense of SMH.
Finding Real Life Examples of SMH
If you want to see more examples of this term in the wild, look for the term or hashtag on any of your favorite social networks. Twitter and Instagram are good places to start since many people with public profiles/blogs use the word or tag (#smh) in their posts.
Why Use SMH?
Acronyms like SMH and other abbreviated words are part of a major trend in online communities or private messages that lets users save time by introducing an extra emotional reaction that can be more difficult to communicate in words alone. If the world continues to accept mobile web browsing and instant messages, you should expect trends like wth, smh, tbh, bae, and all the rest of those weird short-form terms to show up more of your daily internet usage, along with newer ones that are likely to pop up in the future.