Discussing E-Laughter


A recently published report from Facebook broke down how social media sites’ users e-laugh. Facebook primarily looked at “haha,” “hehe,” emoji, and “lol,” finding that most were partial to “haha” while few preferred the shorthand for laughing out loud.

As co-hosts of The Hash, we decided to chime in on the laughing online phenomenon and discuss how we choose to e-laugh.

Dane’s Take

For my generation, much of our tween and teen years were spent on AOL Instant Messenger, followed by Myspace, then by Facebook, and so on. As our platforms evolved, so did our lingo.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been likely to reject using “lol” in favor of “haha,” “lmao,” “hahaha,” and even “lolol.” For a brief stint, a friend of mine was using “lal” (laugh a lot) instead of “lol” and it caught on for a bunch of us. It somehow felt more genuine than using the typical knee jerk reaction of “lol,” but eventually “lal” faded and “lol” remained.

Today, usage of “lol” is dwindling, and I can see why. It’s tired and, quite honestly, it loses its charm when everyone we electronically communicate with uses it so frequently. Instead, I usually choose other forms of expressing laughter when chatting with those who I communicate with most often. Emoji, surprisingly, isn’t one of them. While I use emoji constantly for other emotions and reactions, my laughter is most typically a sardonic “lolol,” a hearty “HAHAHAHA,” and the occasional snickering “lmao” reserved for topics a bit below my maturity level.

Molly’s Take

I was never a huge fan of “lol.” I’m not sure if this is because I rarely laughed out loud at something online or because my parents and older family members tended to use the shorthand (making it uncool in my tween eyes). However, at some point I made the decision to use “haha.”

As a result, Facebook’s findings aren’t too surprising to me, though I wonder if “lol” is truly going the way of the internet dinosaurs. Like any language, e-language evolves over time. So while “lol” may have been more prevalent 10 years ago than it is now, it may see a resurgence.

Personally, I certainly go through phases of writing “lol” (or other versions like “lolololol”), because I used it more in college than I do now. Additionally, emoji have become more integral to my online language–perhaps pushing out “lol” for a little while. But, as internet language evolves, so too will online laughter. We may stop using “lol” entirely or it may have a comeback somewhere down the line.

Feature photo courtesy of Eric Heunthep.

For more on this topic, listen to Molly and Dane discuss it on The Hash.