My post the other day (Computer Programmer Inflation) got me thinking of another type of inflation that I've observed over the years: Comicality Inflation. Like other types of inflation, it's not as if things have gotten funnier, it’s just the terms we use to describe them.
Back in the day (and I'm talking the day; as in, before electricity and all that), if a friend sent us a letter that we found entertaining, we would simply compliment it when we penned our reply: Archibald, I must concede your quip about poor Rutherford’s embarrassing gaffe was quite witty and remarkably entertaining.
Thankfully, those days are long gone, replaced by the ever-so-simple (though dreadfully less elegant) onomatopoeic interjection "haha" (and it's cousins, "hehe", "hoho", etc). One of the great features of "haha" is that it is an expandojective: the intensity of its meaning is proportional to its length.
ha - mildly amusing, possibly causing a very soft chuckle
haha - funny, causing at a minimum a chuckle, but most likely a snort
a-hahahahahaha - busting out in full-blown laughter requiring a pre-laughter breath (hence, the "a-")
By the way, if anyone knows the proper term for such a word, please advise. It's not as if "haha" is the only expandojective. There’s "aaagh", "aarrg", "reeeaaaaly", "zzz", and so on. These magical fantastic words truly need their own category.
Anyway, it would seem that "haha" would be the perfect way of indicating the comicality of something you read. After all, it expands as things get funnier and it even has lots of room for personalization ("ho-ha-ha","teehehe",etc). Alas, it is not; some one had to come along and create the acronym "LOL".
On its own, I don't think that LOL (Laugh Out Loud) is a terrible thing. After all, there's no official "ha" scale and it's quite hard to tell if "hahaha" means "I laughed out loud" or "I had a series of snickers." It's the abuse and extension of LOL that really offends me.
First, let’s consider the abuse. How many times have you seen people reply with "LOL" and you know, for a fact, that what you wrote wasn’t possibly that funny? And if you think exaggerative flattery is excusable, consider the typical teenage instant message conversation:
princessGurl1924: heya becca, hows it goin, lol
angelKitty77: omg, lol it's goin pretty good lol. u??
princessGurl1924: lol good good!~!!
If I knew anyone who laughed that much in real life, I would suggest that they have some serious mental disorder. Or that they are high on some cocktail of illicit narcotics.
I know that I'm not alone in this observation. I've noticed that quite a few people have started to differentiate between LOL-funny and Laugh-Out-Loud-funny by replacing the latter with the absurdly redundant "LLOL" (Literally Laugh Out Loud). I swear, if we ever begin to figuratively LLOL, I will have no choice but to become a Luddite.
I’d have to say that the extensions of LOL offend me the most. Let's consider the most prevalent:
ROFL (Rolling On the Floor Laughing) - I've seen a lot of funny stuff in my day, and, let me tell you, I'm a laugher. But I have never seen anything that was so funny that I dropped to the floor in a fit of uncontrollable laughter. And if you ever have, it certainly wasn’t while reading something on the internet.
LMAO (Laughing My Ass Off) - Some might say that this is not fair game because the colloquialism "laughing my ass off" had existed prior to the Internet. No less, I still consider the acronymization to be a direct result of LOL.
ROFLMAO (Rolling On the Floor Laughing My Ass Off) - A total unnecessary expansion of an expansion. Since when was an uncontrollable fit of laughter causing one to drop to the floor *not* the most extreme reaction to humor possible? And what, precisely, is the difference between laughing while rolling on the floor and laughing your ass off while rolling on the floor? How possibly could one distinguish between the two?
ROFLOL (Rolling On the Floor Laughing Out Loud) - I'm guessing this falls somewhere between ROFL and ROLFMAO. But it’s just another pointless expansion. We already know that there is no difference between ROFL and ROFLMAO, but think about what ROFLOL implies. Someone who is rolling on the floor in laughter isn't doing so audibly, just quietly rolling around on the floor, laughing to themselves.
LOLOLOL (???) - I don't even know what this is. Laugh Out Loud Out Loud Out Loud? Laugh Out Laugh Out Loud Out Loud? How exactly did an acronym become an expandojective? It's "words" like this that make me long the good-ole-days before "haha" was created.
I know we've all used these new-aged acronyms (except LOLOLOL, I hope). And I know we probably won't stop. But, at least consider this rant next time you reply with ROFLMAO; it just may just enhance your fits of laughter while you're rolling around on the floor.