For years, I looked down upon the over-abbreviators and their stupid-as-fuck acronyms.
I didn’t know what “SMH” meant until six months ago, and I’m damn proud of that.
But throughout my 15+ years as a texter, I’ve never felt comfortable with “haha” as a means to demonstrate that I genuinely find something funny. More often than not, it comes off as insincere because when somebody says something not funny and you’re trying to be polite, what do you type? Ha-fucking-ha.
And thus the conundrum.
But what most don’t know is that this struggle dates back three decades. Wayne Pearson of Calgary, Canada claims that he coined the term with his friends on Viewline (an old school chatroom) in the early ‘80s when his buddy “Sprout” cracked a joke so hilarious that he needed something bigger, bolder, and more evocative to express his amusement.
“I always emphasized (and still do) that it was meant to be used *only* if you truly Laughed Out Loud,” Pearson wrote in a post where he described dreaming up arguably the three most widely-used letters in our texting lexicon.
The man had a vision. Typing “LOL” in an instance where you weren’t audibly laughing is the equivalent of murdering multiple babies in Pearson’s eyes. He wanted LOL to mean something.
Ben Zimmer, a “netspeak historian” and lexicographer (a person who compiles dictionaries, or a “person with very few friends”) says that the first documented use of LOL came in a May 1989 newsletter called FidoNews, which listed it as a commonly used Web acronym.
That’s right: “LOL” was already commonly used by 1989. Condensing “Laughing Out Loud” into three letters isn’t a result of millennial laziness — it’s the result of a 30-year-old struggle to genuinely convey laughter via text.
So for all of you in your late 20s or early 30s clinging to “haha,” “hahaha,” and of course “hahahahahahahahaha,” it’s time to transition.
I was the biggest LOL-hater out there because I felt like a 12-year-old every time my fingers glided across my keyboard to type those three letters.
But now? I feel like a 50-year-old Canadian.
And for some reason that’s a lot more comforting….
Tim Livingston is editor-in-chief of TheLeadSports and its famous Quickie newsletter. Click to sign-up and get your sports news with a generous sprinkling of LOL’s.
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