The Reality of LOL

The Internet started a really interesting, convenient, and sensible place to abbreviate sentences, or at least sentence fragments and ideas. Be it on a computer that fits in your pocket, or one you need a lap for, its been around so long now that creepy little children don’t know what its like to not have a smartphone. From the technological communication of AIM, TXT, FBOOK, & GCHAT a new language (or at least dialect) has been born. I’m not interested in BRB, or TTYL. G2G is a beautiful symbol to me. No, these are the productive and typically literal abbreviations we all know and love/hate. I am proud to be right back, and even not mean it. But chances are most people are not going to lie about that. If you intend to BRB, you will BRB. If you for any reason don’t want to continue a conversation, G2G is a universally accepted goodbye with virtually (pun intended) no animosity likely to develop from your friend, (BTW if you have a friend who is uncomfortable with G2G you need to GTFO of that relationship). When is the last time you were talking to someone and they said WTF and didn’t mean it? We are this language, we created it, it makes sense.

But where did we go wrong? It wasn’t intentional – heavens, no! Surely we began with truth and hilarity. Without a doubt in my abbreviated mind I know that this dialect was not forged out of some scheme of deception. Unfortunately, we have woven ourselves into a web of lies. I can not say when, but certainly there was a time when we actually were Laughing Out Loud. It’s a good one. A great abbreviation for a real event. But it isn’t real anymore, no one’s actually laughing. Sure, when you do LOL IRL, you type LOL, but how many times do you sit smiling, smirking, or even staring blankly at a plasma screen typing LOL, regardless of what you’re feeling – simply not laughing. Stating plainly that on the other end of this connection you are undergoing an audible response to hilarity. But it’s a lie. You’re not laughing out loud. You’re probably at work! Or watching television. Or walking somewhere and being harassed for texting and walking.

You’re a liar. And so am I. And it’s an uncomfortable lie. I realized how weird I was when I noticed how often I would text my friends “LOL” with an almost UNHAPPY look on my face. Not because I was angry at them, but because I was a human being not laughing out loud – but did however find their commentary either entertaining or felt a need to justify them with some degree of positive recognition.  How can we do that on a screen? Respond to those moments that don’t matter much one way or the other? We could send a smiling emotional icon. :-) . But that would be creepy. We opt for the LOL. It affirms our friend’s statement and it encourages positivity. Does the other side know we’re not laughing? Personally, I always wonder whether a LOL is literal or not. Sometimes I ask them. Don’t do that though. It gets too real.

LOL is a space bar that makes someone happy. It validates. But how much non-laughing can one invisible network withstand? I want a video montage of all the people in the United States writing LOL, and I want to see what they’re really doing. People definitely use LOL when they LOL. I don’t doubt it. But it has also become a scapegoat. Sometimes there is so much LOLing going on I wonder how anyone could possible be getting through their day without being committed for hysteria. We just don’t do it that often.

Maybe its a necessary evil. We can’t make Frankenstein without throwing the girl in the lake, right? Or maybe we need to embrace honesty and abbreviate for real. A very easy way to respond to something you found engaging and somewhat humorous is a simple ha, or ha ha. Ha alone can often come across quite cold in text. Ha ha is almost always considered a genuine response to humor, but if you are nervous go with Ha Ha Ha. In fact, if you’re going to triple ha you might want to remove some spaces and include some capitalization. HAHAHA. Now, that says funny. Thats the great thing about laughing, it doesn’t even need to be abbreviated, because it is a two letter word. LOL made total sense, and we took its believability. If you’re uncomfortable with Ha, then I urge you – make something new. Like TWF (That Was Funny) or HYGC (Ha Yeah Good Call). Just before you LOL to me, make sure you can hear it, otherwise – STFU. TC mark

image – spcbrass

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  • http://twitter.com/Alcords A C

    Love this article…I've thought about that myself millions of times – if my friends simply write “lol” to confirm that what I've written to them was funny or cute OR just to weasel out of an uncomfortable message. I write LOL in caps when I am genuinely laughing out loud or find something extremely funny…that and HAHAHA…

  • http://twitter.com/jessdutschmann Jess Dutschmann

    Well, when I really want to show I'm laughing a lot, I go for the extended lol:
    lololololol for as much actual laughter as you feel like explaining you're doing…

    • http://twitter.com/sgadin S

      same!!

  • PERFECTCIRCLES

    I'm going to find the home address and pay a visit to the first person who comments on this saying “LOL.”

  • kumquat

    I for one have never typed “LOL” in my life. Until just now. And certainly never in lower case. As a rule I detest the practice of using all caps, all the time; however, I advocate its use in acronyms.

  • sean

    jesus christ this article is terribly written

  • http://twitter.com/paulhansonclark Paul Clark
  • IndianGiver

    lol

  • http://vickyalways.blogspot.com vicky

    i thought that's what the lowercase lol was for—when you are laughing on the inside, or want to acknowledge that a comment deserves a laugh or something.

    lol

  • Masumi

    You know, I may be odd, but I never actually use 'LOL' unless I have genuinely laughed out loud at something. And since people can't see me laughing out loud, it seems a harmless enough way to tell them that. If I don't laugh out loud at something that is evidently expected to be a joke, I just settle for 'heh', which seems to convey that “I acknowledge that you were trying to be funny, and it raised a faint smile but didn't reduce me to helpless fits of laughter” sentiment that you're apparently grasping for.

  • http://blog.brain-scape.com Amanda Moritz

    what I would really like to see is a video montage of people loling on chat roulette 1 year ago

  • fl

    I feel that this image summarizes the article quite well: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_bRbe

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505759069 Julian Tully Alexander

    I usually use lol in moments of awkwardness/not knowing what to say.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XETLBYNZPN66ONYTNISZIDTU2Q OT

    this article. lol smh

  • http://twitter.com/raystraight Ray Straight

    tl;dr

    jk, lol

    no, seriously, I lol'd

  • anon

    I dunno…sometimes “ha ha” can seem kinda creepy. Not as bad as my mother and her friends using “hee-hee” on every single Facebook post existing though.

  • http://twitter.com/MissKimball misskimball

    doesn't it mean lack of laughs? makes much more sense

  • LockYoung

    Read this with a neutral expression on my face, feeling extremely entertained. This is great.

  • Eljeff

    Awesome, great article

  • http://twitter.com/danielleaustria Dani

    IKR.

  • Rain Wilber

    it is all a dumb game that geeks are playing with each other. The reality is that the internet was/is a device for taking information, these people that think it is for communication are misunderstanding what a human body and mouth are already here for.

    All this communicating via the internet is not 1/1000th as good as face to face reality. Technology doesn't improve communication between individuals or groups, it improves the amount of information available, so they can communicate in real (real) 'Real' life.

  • RamonaCC

    I only ever use LOL in real life, out loud, when I'm mocking something/someone or just generally being a cruel human being. In text form the number of “ha's” I type is directly correlated to the movements of my diaphragm.

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