What We Talk About When We Talk About LOL

Illustration for article titled What We Talk About When We Talk About LOL

Emojis may be destined to replace words as our default form of communication, but there is one universal, nuanced expression no beaming yellow ball will ever be able to replace: the lols. The has. The translation of laughter to text.


When used correctly, there is nothing like the physical tap-tapping of keys to mimic real, honest human laughter. When used incorrectly, however, you look like a real douche. Eric Limer and I discuss this fine line in this latest installment of Overthinking Internet Semantics.

Ashley Feinberg: I never used to use "lol." I hated it. Even when it was ok to use it I hated it.

Eric Limer: Oh so you just started at step two.

Ashley: I didn't start using it until I got to Gizmodo and lost any sense of propriety.

Eric: What did you say instead?

Ashley: haha

Ashley: hahahha


Ashley: And so forth.

Eric: Yeah there's a real sense of like hammering on the keys as you laugh.

Eric: Like, hahahaohhashhsha is way better than ROFL or LMAO.

Ashley: Also it's just an awful, fake thing. When people say lol after something, you know it really just means "you're joke was mediocre and/or I am deeply uncomfortable with myself as a human lol."


Eric: But what me and my friends did (because we were assholes) is just invent an alternative stupid fucking thing. We

Ashley: ...........

Eric: God it hurts to say this

Ashley: ........................

Eric: We used to say "ial."

Eric: Ugh.

Ashley: What.

Ashley: Why.

Ashley: Is it... I am laughiaoghijsgd

Eric: Oh, no. It was worse honestly. It was, "I'm audibly laughing."

Ashley: Ugh.

Ashley: UGH.

Ashley: I just said ugh out loud.

Eric: I know, I heard you.

Ashley: But like, honestly, haha at the end of a line is just as bad as lol or whatever garbage you and your friends came up with.


Ashley: Sorry I can't come to your birthday lol.

Ashley: Sorry my grandma died haha.

Ashley: They are the same. Because if you think something is actually funny, it goes on a new line.


Ashley: haha (I acknowledge your joke.)

Ashley: hahah (You made a good joke.)

Ashley: ahhahahhaha (I find this legitimately amusing.)

Eric: ahgouiyftudygiukhalsijdk;'al (i am dead with laughter or i actually hate you and your joke)


Ashley: HAHAHAHHAH (I'm hitting on you/a serial killer.)

Eric: At least with dlksj;lahsdaslhasd there's no danger of somebody trying to say it in real life, like those horrible blights of human beings who SAY lol.


Ashley: Eh, I don't think I actually KNOW anyone who says it out loud. Although I do have some deep-rooted aural memory. Where it is high pitched, and drawn out. Nasaly.

Eric: Like, "laaawwwwl." Man, fuck lawl.

Ashley: BUT either way. The point is, I have no idea why I started saying it at Gizmodo. I held our for a while, and judged all of you furiously for it.


Eric: It's because we talk so fucking much over IM to bother with anything that isn't super easy. That, and we're all showering in irony daily as a matter of course.

Ashley: It's not even ironic anymore, though. If you think that you're lying to yourself.


Ashley: One thing I don't do and will never do because I am not a goddamn animal, though, is "heh."

Ashley: Heh.

Ashley: I despise "heh."

Eric: I mean I guess the real point is that nothing matters lol.

Ashley: And really, when you think about it, we're all going to die one day anyway so why even say anything at all?


Eric: Why say anything at lol.

Ashley: Ugh.

Image by Michael Hession

Contact the author at ashley@gizmodo.com.



Kate Knibbs

"hehe" is the most sociopathic thing a person can type