Saturday, December 6, 2014

Starting a war on lol

I am declaring war on the ubiquitous acronym lol. Not only does it confuse those who didn't grow to maturity in a 90's chat room or in the current glut of social media platforms (how many non-digital natives think it means Lots of Love?), but it no longer holds any real meaning. It's used mostly to imply 'I find your statement mildly amusing' and then when you really are laughing out loud it needs to be stated with more fervence.

I found myself recently saying llol instead: Literally Laughing Out Loud. I've seen people write "lolling" as if lol is now a word instead of an acronym. And them there's lmao and pmsl and rotflmao and many other variations that are attempts to express the varying levels of amusement that may be generated in online interactions.

There are so many brilliant words for the many forms of laughter that are never used outside of an erudite novel. When was the last time you heard someone guffaw? Do you ever chortle or chuckle?  How about that person on the train who had the best cackle you'd ever heard? Everyone should snigger at least once, and sometimes a joke deserves a titter.

And that's just in English, in which there are apparently 42 ways to express laughter in typing. Even plain old hahaha is expressed differently in other languages online.

One of my favourite movie moments is a character in Amelie describing to her how Nino used to collect laughs. I've found myself mentally doing the same. Noting the kind of infectious laughter that makes you laugh too. Or the one that makes you snap out of your own thoughts just because it's so unusual.

How many ways can you laugh?

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