is lol dead?

A new study analyzing how we digitally express laughter spells bad news for an abbreviation once cherished by seventh graders everywhere.

by Emily Manning
Aug 11 2015, 6:45pm

The acronym that featured in thousands of AIM *~aWaY meSSagEs !~* might soon face the same extinction as the instant messaging platform that first brought it into our lives. A new analysis published on Facebook's research blog indicates that these days, we're 'lol'ing much, much less.

Using a smorgasbord of charts -- many of which have barely ever seen the light of day beyond the "Graphs" chapter of a third grade math textbook -- Facebook's researchers report that age, gender and geographic location all play important roles in how we communicate laughter. These findings indicate that young people and women are more likely to use emoji (you got that right: when someone texts me this, they're damn sure getting the laugh-cry face) or "haha"s, while men prefer the slightly more maniacal option: longer strings of "hehe"s.

Unsurprising to anyone who's ever been kicked in the face by a Showtime boy on a rush hour 6 train, New Yorkers are among the least likely to lol. Residents of Southern states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona post many more laughs loud, according to the study. Facebook did discover that the OG abbreviation is still popular amongst its older generation of users. Its findings show that "lol" is more likely to be deployed by people over 30.

With additional research indicating that emoji is one of the fastest growing languages in the UK, these learnings are another interesting indication of the way technological developments shape communication. But larger questions remain: will lol's death will be immortalized on screen in the forthcoming emoji film? If so, will salsa dancing woman or buck toothed demon deliver its eulogy? 


Text Emily Manning