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IRL meaning and in which contexts to use it

When trying to discern whether something is real or part of digital life only, you can use the abbreviation “IRL” which means in real life.

Beth Taylor
Beth Taylor

What does irl mean?

Nowadays, it’s difficult to distinguish between social media and reality. Some people choose to bare all online, while others hide behind an alias, a persona or only show the highlight reel of their lives. When trying to discern whether something is real or part of digital life only, you can use the abbreviation “IRL” which means in real life.

We can use “IRL” to differentiate between our day-to-day lives and things that happen online, including on social media, video games, TV, and films.

What is irl?

IRL is an internet slang term that’s primarily used in writing and rarely spoken aloud. It should only be used in informal situations with people you’re familiar with. Never include it in a work email or use it in any other formal context. When searching for an appropriate equivalent, you can either use the unabbreviated form “in real life” or swap it for “in reality.” IRL can be written in either upper or lower case.

Example sentences using “irl”

We’ve been chatting for years, but I’ve never met her IRL.
You’re just as bad at soccer on FIFA as you are irl.
He acts like he’s loaded on Instagram, but irl he can barely pay his rent.
She uses filters so you can’t tell what she looks like, but irl she’s naturally beautiful.
We got on really well and could talk on the phone for hours, but when we met irl there was no chemistry.
Irl I’m not strong like my avatar. I’m just a geek playing computer games.
I heard Scarlett Johansson is even more badass irl than in the Avengers.
He played a bad boy on TV, yet irl he’s shy and really sweet.
I stopped editing my photos because I was worried nobody would recognize me irl.
They use autotune in their songs and never perform live. I bet they can’t sing irl.
I photoshopped myself into a picture of the Eiffel Tower, but irl, I’ve never been to Paris.
A catfish is a person who pretends to be someone else online, with a fake account and fake photos, but it’s not them irl.

What does irl mean on Snapchat?

IRL can be used in any online conversation. Still, you may often come across it when referring to the differences between the image portrayed on social media and the person in real life. It can be used when talking about Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, and online dating apps. Finally, one last word of advice for anybody using the internet: Always beware of strangers on the internet because you never know who’s truly behind the account without meeting them irl.

Video examples:

The Net (1995)
The Normal Heart (2014)
Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)

Beth Taylor

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