By Chris Matyszczyk, CNET, Aug 10,2015 – I felt that LOL might have leaped over the moon, never mind Jaws, when the not too au-fait British Prime Minister David Cameron used it in a text.
Yes, he thought it meant “lots of love” (allegedly). Some might imagine, though, that the moment a government head has discovered a term, that term encountered its death throes.
It may have come to pass.
I am currently bathing in a study conducted by Facebook’s nosy number-crunchers. Titled “The Not-So-Universal Language of Laughter,” this delightful piece of research looked at the different ways that Facebookers express laughter.
The researchers claim they looked at one week’s posts and comments from May to see whether there was democratic agreement about how to laugh in social media.
Of course, the researchers claim these posts and comments were “de-identified.” There are surely several people who would love to be permanently de-identified, if only Facebook would let them.
Still, one imagines there must have been hundreds of millions of de-identified expressions of laughter. Humans, though, aren’t always imaginative in their self-expression. Indeed, 15 percent of people posted at least one so-called e-laugh. (This is not to be confused with the bell-e-laugh.)
And, what do you know, 51.4 percent of them wrote “haha.”
I sense a slightly cavalier attitude in this result. The scores for “haha” included “hahahaha” and even “haahhhaa.” Ha. Who writes “haahhhaa”? Perhaps it’s an after-midnight, after-seven-vodkas thing.
Still, this essential form was clearly the winner. Next was the laughing emoji. 33.7 percent of people thought themselves too progressive to actually use letters. 13.1 percent favored “hehe,” which I always associated with snickering, rather than laughing.
But the big news for everyone, including the members of the British government, is that “LOL” is laughably rare. A mere 1.9 percent of these Facebookers used this once-admired (by someone, surely) expression. The researchers did say that LOL is still popular in the south. The midwest is very fond of emojis, however.
You might still be wondering, though, how often people laugh on Facebook, as opposed to at it. 46 percent, this study says, post some form of laugh just once a week. Only 15 percent posted more than five chuckles. Of interest to psychologists might be that around 20 percent of people used more than one form of laughter expression. What can this mean?
I worry that you’ll now become self-conscious about your written laughter. The question is whether you’ll devolve to pure hahas or whether you’ll seek something new and uncharted.
“Arf, arf, arf”? Or perhaps a snorting nose emoji?