Loathing Out Loud… on the Internet

In my post yesterday about Larry the etc., I “thanked” him for “git-r-dun”, in that it’s a great barometer for telling who the shit human being in the room is (or whatever I wrote). Sadly, I feel the same way in internet correspondence about the dreaded “lol”. Though, lol is more troubling, in that while the vast majority of my friends are equally, if not more, disgusted by “git-r-dun”, good friends have began or have always used the “word” regularly. My hatred for lol is bottomless, and I’m afraid it’s making its way, more and more, into my everyday life. It is because of this that I put a radical thought forward: we get rid of “lol” altogether. Or at least, of course, start using it correctly.


I won’t lie and say that I’ve never lol-ed anyone in an electronic conversation before. But when did I employ it? When I was Laughing Out Loud, motherfuckers. For this is the meaning of this achingly simple “word,” one which demands no intellect to decipher. With certain people, I even take its use as an honor: to make one laugh out loud instead of just smile or chuckle is an achievement with icier folk, and means you’re warming their hearts, even if in the slightest. But it’s the age of Tweeting on your Blackberry in line for the first half of the last season of “The Hills” on DVD at Best Buy-ification of the English language that has made “lol” the figurehead, the sacrificial lamb, the George W. Bush of obnoxious internet speak. Sure, RTFLMAO is twice as obnoxious, because the vivid nature of the words abbreviated (in my 10 or so years of internet correspondence, I’ve sadly never gotten the impression that someone had just gotten up off the floor after laughing their ass off at something they just said), but lol is used so frequently and SO inaccurately that it’s easily the most annoying part of this up-and-coming generation’s growing lexicon of internet slang.


And it is for that realization that I demand we rewrite its rules. In my mind, there has to be a hierarchy of displaying laughter via Instant Message. It should begin with “ha,” an expression of mild amusement, perhaps at a joke too witty to warrant laughter in any real life situation, or maybe out of pity-cum-annoyance. Next would be “haha,” expressing amusement, though perhaps more of an internalized funny than a primitive funny (make-you-think funny in lieu of ha-ha funny, if you will). Next up would be “hahahahaha,” or some variation of it, where the word is repeated more than twice. This could indicate actual laughter, or the maximum amusement that make-you-think funny could allow. The next step up, “HAHAHAHAHAHA,” is predictably the last category, but more intensified, THEN followed by the reviled “lol,” being used in its literal sense. In other words, if I see “lol” somewhere, your ass better be laughing.


That is perhaps what bothers me the most. The way lol is used is denotes that either some people are just laughing at shit all the fucking time, or are using it disingenuously, which is perhaps the biggest insult of all. My first realization of this horrible phenomenon came about when I was accompanying a friend somewhere, and showed up early to find her typing to someone via instant messenger, using lol liberally and NOT LAUGHING AT ALL. Why bother using this phrase unless you’re laughing out loud? Are you that comfortable lying to people you know? Has lol suffered the same fate as MTV, forgetting the meaning of its acronym and just existing as something else entirely?


My biggest issue, though, is its presence in my immediate world. I’m no longer young enough to be part of the generation that uses lol and its many horrible cousins on a daily basis, so it’s a bit sad seeing my friends use it via instant messenger, email, Facebook status, and the like as if they WERE young enough to abuse it, as if a sad attempt to reclaim their place in the youth of America. A lol every now and then for those in the above 25 crowd is tolerable, I suppose, but to use it in the same flog-it-out-of-existence manner in which the 25-and-under crowd brings to mind a picture of some second-chance woman in her 40s sporting Mom Jeans and a hunger for sex for the first time since her dehumanizing divorce. It’s pathetic cloaked in faux-relevance no matter what age uses it, but a lol from someone who knows better is clearly knows better is on par with cleaning up the scattered remnants of a puppy thrown into a woodchipper in terms of sadness. Perhaps there can be no lol reform, and we should just get rid of it. But in the interim, it’s one of the (admittedly many) things that sends an icy shiver of hatred down my spine upon its sight, and perhaps my (and your) world would be better if it were  buried alive in the same graveyard as “groovy” and “tubular.”



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