Why I Loathe ‘LOL’

by WiseFool

I hate, loathe and despise the word, if it can be called a word, LOL. A little harsh, you say?

Now, I realize that there are far worse crimes committed against humanity. There are, of course, catastrophes and global injustices far more worthy of our consternation and outrage.

And, I’m also aware of the fact that our language is a fluid thing. Goodness knows, my first love, Shakespeare, introduced many new words to the English language.

But, I don’t really consider LOL a word, certainly not one that you would use in speech, and although you may think that its use is benign enough, I feel that it’s just the tip of a hideous text-speak iceberg.

Text Speak: What’s That All About?

And why is it so ubiquitous?

LOL, WTF, FTW, BTW, ROFL, LMAO and a host of other abbreviations, most of which I am too old to be privy to (I’m in my twenties, in case you’re wondering), are everywhere I turn. Now, I know these ‘textisms’ have a purpose; they save you time and character spaces when you’re writing a text message. And, although I choose not to use them myself, I can completely understand why someone would.

They have a function and if you want to respond to someone, via text message, to tell him or her that a joke was so hilarious that you were rolling around the floor for hours, clutching your stomach, until your sides hurt, then ROFL is a much more time efficient way of doing so. I get it, really I do!

What I cannot get my head around is why LOL and similar abbreviations have gone from that very functional use to being bandied about in places where the desire to reduce character length and fiddly texting time is not a factor. For example, I see LOL splattered liberally all over the status updates, comments and pictures of my friends’ Facebook pages. I have even seen LOL in a handwritten note. There’s no character limit when you use a good old fashion pen, so why the need for an abbreviation?

And the reason is two-fold: First, texting has made a lot of people incredibly lazy when it comes to communicating in written form. And second, so often, when LOL is written, the person doesn't really mean that they have laughed out loud at all.

Like evil Superman in Superman III, LOL seems to have taken on a life of its own. If we’re not careful, LOL will end up straightening the leaning tower of Pisa.

Are You Really Laughing?

Or has LOL lost its meaning?

Well, I'm Not Laughing!A couple of days ago, a friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook of her two new bunnies. Beneath, she wrote, “This is Harry and Reggie LOL.”

Now, perhaps I’m missing something, maybe rabbits called Harry and Reggie are extremely amusing…but I doubt it. And even if there is something humorous about the names, It’s certainly not laugh out loud worthy, is it?

I like to think I have quite a healthy sense of humor, with a broad range of things that tickle me. But there are very few things that actually make me laugh out loud. This is especially true when we’re talking about a text message, Facebook status, online article or even a book for that matter. When something really does make me laugh out loud, it's because it is very funny!

But many people ram LOL on the end of every, usually mundane, sentence. “I’m just going to clean my car LOL” or “Felt baby kick for the first time LOL” or “Just found my husband in bed with another woman LOL!”

Have these people been dipping into their own private stash of nitrous oxide? No, they’re not really laughing at all. It’s simply that LOL has, for some, come to be a standard finisher.

Any phrase should now be closed with an LOL, because…well, why exactly?

It Doesn’t Mean Anything!

LOL means diddly. It means squat.

It’s ugly, it’s lazy and it’s a bastardization of the English language, but all of that I could overlook (just about), if LOL actually meant something. If the abbreviation referred to the words that they are supposed to represent, I would be able to handle it.

The thing that really gets on my nerves about LOL is that it’s used in completely the wrong circumstances; as though the writer doesn’t have a clue what the letters stand for.

And, of course, because LOL has now lost all meaning, when someone really wants to suggest that something has made them chuckle, they need to use a stronger textism - an abbreviation that will mean ‘yeah, that really, honestly, truly did make me laugh’, like: LMAO or ROFL.

And these also annoy me, because, again, they’re being used inappropriately. I don’t think anybody in the history of the universe has ever laughed so hard that they’re lost their derriere, and, let’s be honest, with the exception of small children, who rolls around on the floor chuckling? Don’t get me wrong, we adults should do more of it, but, the truth is, we don’t.

Okay, so it’s hyperbole, maybe it’s not meant to be taken literally.

How Do You Feel About LOL?

Am I Alone in Loathing it?

There Definitely Should Be More Laughter in The World

Laughter Always Welcome

Are You Actually Using More Letters Than You Need?

Those three letters are used indiscriminately and they mount up.

But, here’s one out of the box: Why can’t we actually write what we mean? If something made your lips quirk in the hint of a smile, don’t write “LOL”, write “That made me smile.” Yes it may take a few seconds longer, but if you’re not trying to reduce your length, for a text message or tweet, then why the heck not take those few extra seconds?

And, in actual fact, people are spending an accumulation of hours typing L, O and L, when it’s completely unnecessary. You know, I remember the good old days, when a phrase, such as, “Two weeks until my wedding day,” or “Puppy’s just made a mess in the middle of the brand new carpet,” would be closed with a simple punctuation mark. Was that so awful?

Updated: 04/06/2012, WiseFool
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Mira on 08/06/2012

"But many people ram LOL on the end of every, usually mundane, sentence." -- loved that: they do! And then you need ROFL, as you say. I laughed my ass off :-) Good article!

WiseFool on 04/27/2012

Hey, Onepage! I haven't heard anyone say it and I wouldn't have believed that anyone would, until Jo (a few comments lower) confessed to her sins! It does seem very strange to me. After all, if you're actually laughing out loud, the person you're speaking with can probably tell that's what you're doing without being told.

onepagearticles on 04/26/2012

Have you ever heard people say this to you whilst actually talking to them in person? I have and I was just shocked by it...saying lol at the end of what they just said to me just brought an image of a small yellow smiling emoticon in my mind and it was just ridiculous!

WiseFool on 04/15/2012

That's very kind of you, Jean. Thank you!

JeanBakula on 04/15/2012

I really enjoyed your commentary on this issue!

WiseFool on 04/14/2012

Thanks Wrylit, always nice when other people share your (albeit pedantic) point of view.

Hi Generation X'er, thanks for your comment. I wasn't suggesting that "nerds" (in fact, didn't even use the word) or texters 'invented' it (sorry if it seemed that I was), was merely pointing out that this is the medium through which it spread like wildfire. The fact that these acronyms were created by folks on Usenet and the like is actually even more strange, because, surely, there was no need to limit character use?

Ryank, you make a good point, it seems some people use it to clarify their message - 'it's a joke, it's lighthearted' - because without the inflection of a voice or facial expression, it can be difficult to know how words are intended. Of course, the problem is that 'LOL' or even 'Haha' can be used sarcastically.

Generation X'er on 04/13/2012

LOL, WTF, FTW, BTW, ROFL & LMAO were NOT brought about by lazy "text" nerds. They were introduced by those known as "Generation X" (much older than you) in chat rooms. The modern "text" nerds & kids like to take credit for "inventing" chat/text speak, but they are sadly mistaken. OMG WTF BBQ!

wrylilt on 04/13/2012

Well said! I personally think that LOL is what people say when they have nothing else to say - for instance someone says "So I'm bored" Answer: LOL!

WiseFool on 04/12/2012

Thanks Bhavesh, ThePartyAnimal and OnePageArticles, can't tell you how nice it is to know that I'm not alone. In the case of the coffee tweet of Facebook update, perhaps part of it's missing and it should actually be inviting readers to guess: latte or l'espresso - it's the only thing that makes any sense to me.

onepagearticles on 04/12/2012

I hate the ones on Twitter or Facebook that people write on their statuses like "I just had a coffee LOL!" WTF's to laugh about!!!!!!!?

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