Ha! LOL is a dead language 2015.10.14

Next week's paper will be…well, I'm not sure. I suspect that it will be small and maybe a little odd. Or maybe it won't appear at all. I'm scheduled to have hernia repair surgery next week and I don't know what my recovery period will be like. 

The Observer is not a one-man show, but when it comes to the writing and photography part, if that one guy disappears…just wait and see. 


A headline in an August edition of Seventeen magazine states that "It's official: No one uses LOL anymore." The subhead adds "Except maybe your parents."

I assure you that my parents do not LOL anymore and probably never did. The same for their son. I've never LOL'd in my life. 

I wish I could remember what I once thought LOL might stand for, in addition to Laughing Out Loud. I knew it worked out with the letters, but I thought there might be an optional meaning.

A quick Google search suggested "Lots of love," "Lesbian On-Line," "Lovely old lady," "Land of Lakes." And I thought people were laughing at my text messages.

Now I remember: Lots of luck. I once thought that might be what was behind the letters. It generally fit the response. I can feel readers forming acronyms in their heads as they laugh not with me but at me. LAY.

LOL is just the beginning. There are a good three dozen internet slang words relating to various stages of laughter. LOTI: Laughing on the inside. LQTM: Laughing quietly to myself. LSHIDMT: Laughing so hard I dropped my taco. And so forth.

The Facebook people actually ordered up some research about online laughing, claiming that they never actually looked through your messages. LOL was found to be a dead word. Only 1.9 percent of users LOL'd. "Haha" is definitely the preferred method of letting someone know you thought their post was humorous.

More than half of users prefer "haha" or some variant. There's "ha ha" and "hahaha" and "hahhhaahhh," etc. The longest "haha" measured 600 characters—from someone easily amused and with time on their hands.

One-third of users prefer emoji—the little smiley faces—over actual words, and 50 percent of them prefer only a single face. Five consecutive faces is quite rare. If you receive one, don't ever delete it.

Here's the disturbing news: About an eighth of users are going with "hehe." Overall, it's more of a male thing, and something favored by older users. "Hehe" or maybe "heehee" is fairly uncommon in Michigan and Ohio where emoji rule. "Hehe" is gaining ground on the West Coast, along with New Mexico thrown in.

I don't like it. "Hehe" doesn't sound like much of a laugh at all to me. There was no indication given about whether it's an emerging acronym. Emerging but heading toward death, perhaps, like so much of what's online.

LOL endured for a very long time and it's still popular in several southern states. LOL users are among the oldest population, but I received two LOLs in the past week: One from someone 20 years younger than I; another, surprisingly, from a high school student. That last one included a smiling mouth D.

I checked out my kids' texts to me. Maddie  is clearly a "ha" person, and usually just that: a single "ha," but she's not tied into it. I once received a "hahahahaha." Rosanna apparently favors "ha" but she's certainly not opposed to a "haha" now and then.

I can't find anything of the sort from Ben. He's probably like me and never let anyone know that he's LSHIFOC or LHBO. I know many times I've written unacronymically "very funny," and that's about as generous as I get.