The Rise and Fall of LOL
by Christopher Mitchell


Most of us have encountered it. The dreaded instant message conversations, where the other party insists on suffixing every sentence with the abbreviation "lol". This sickness is sweeping the nation and computing communities across the world, where otherwise intelligent individuals pepper their communications with a phrase bearing no actual relation to their current emotional stale. "lol" once implied extreme amusement, "laugh out loud", second only to "rofl" and "lmao". Within less than a year it came to symbolize only happiness or mild humor as it became more widely used. Now, it is inserted even if the person is trying to hide anger or frustration or simply making a simple, straightfoward statement. This degradation of nonverbal emotional communication bodes badly for the completeness of technological communications as a whole. It has been widely recognized that in a medium where the 70% nonverbal component of face-to-face human communication is not present, it is vital to have other indications or clues as to emotions, tone of voice, word choice, and emphasis.

The most widely used and earliest example is the substitution of all capital letters is a sentence written in an online medium to indicate anger, shouting, or special emphasis. The next addition was text "emoticons," combinations of letters, symbols, or numbers implying mood or tone. ":-)" usually means "happy" or "pleased", whereas ";-)" indicates that the person is using a joking or teasing tone. The stuck-out-tongue face ":P" can hold shades of meaning including sarcasm or disgust. These gradually became quite widely used, but then another, more pervasive item entered the picture: "lol" and its kin.

An abbreviation meaning "laugh out loud", lol was soon joined by "rofl" (Rolling On the Floor Laughing, alternately spelled "rotfl") and "lmao" (Laughing My A** Off). Initially, these were used sparingly and properly, only to indicate extreme emotion or the user actually laughing aloud at whatever was on the screen. Within the past year or two, however, many have noticed the disturbing trend of "lol" being used to preface or conclude sentences ranging from the mildly amusing to statements intending and eliciting no humor whatsoever. It has become a kneejerk addition to internet and instant messaging communications, equible to the vocal "umm", "you know", "you dig", etc. Even more disturbingly, a few newer members of the internet community have begun using emoticons such as ":)", ":D", ":P" and ":(" without any bearing to what they are actually saying. Consider phrases such as "Can I build here? :P" and "Hi, what's your name? :D", where the emoticon not only adds nothing to the statement, but actually confuses the meaning by directly contradicting the explicit words and implicit tone used.

Where many people who grew up without the convenience of instant electronic communication find Email, forums, and IM to be a corruption of the spoken and written word, this medium is now itself being corrupted. The casual misuse of the very elements meant to make electronic written communication more powerful and expansive are nullifying these same elements; through misuse, users are gradually forcing other users to ignore the mixed messages from emoticons and emotional acronyms. While at the moment no real solution to this occurs, several new media appear to offer something of a respite. VOIP services such as Skype and Google Talk are making spoken communication more popular again even as cellphones begin to outnumber landline phones, and the improving quality of virtual reality programs ranging from video games to simulators to VR chat clients such as IMVU promise to introduce another dimension to electronic chat bordering on face to face communications. If we are to truly develop electronic communications as a media for effective interpersonal communication, some approximation of an online grammar must be maintained. Just as spoken English has complex and rigidly defined rules of construction and grammar, the creation of a group of grammatical rules governing the composition of chat messages, emails, and other online and web communications would go a long way towards preserving the value and power of the internet.
Was this a school essay? Please tell me it was.
No, I wrote it on my own. Smile
when you should be working on DCS? shame on you Just Joking

I do notice that some people over use emotcons, I try to use them sparingly, like the one above for a joke, but I guess lol is used a little too much
Indeedy. I don't mind occasional emoticons, indeed I use them a fair amount myself. Smile
KermMartian wrote:
No, I wrote it on my own. Smile
Oh Kerm, when will you ever learn?
Kerm, most of your posts here in this topic end in an emoitcon then that don't
I know, I use them properly though, to convey the facial expressions I show as I'm typing but which you guys obviously can't see. Like now I'm smiling, so I'll add Smile
ok, maybe I should, but I am usually monotone, so it really doesn't matter
Yeah, I get that impression from you rivereye.
I got that impression as well. So for you, it would be best to leave off the emoticons.
I only use lol when I find something funny....Ive noticed that recently I use Very Happy a lot though.
I used to use Laughing a lot, now I use Very Happy more.
Rivereye, use Neutral : | for your emotional state.
netham45 wrote:
Rivereye, use Neutral : | for your emotional state.
Heh, he does seem to be in that kind of a mood often. I find that I'm often Smile or Sad, but rarely Neutral
Im often in the TI-84+ SE mood.
oh wow. I guess each person is different in how they react to things
netham45 wrote:
Im often in the TI-84+ SE mood.
Heh, that goes without saying. I'm more often in the TI-83+ mood than the TI-84+ SE mood to tell you the truth. Smile
I am sometimes in the TI-83+ mood too! I also am in the TI-84+ SE TI-83+ mood alot.__________________________________________|____|
I am in the...
TI-83+ ___/
...and the...
TI-89 _____ TI-86 _____/
...modes. Laughing
  
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