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Forgive the diatribe

It’s true that I became an “online person” when I was 15, and ever since then I’ve been saying “lol” on instant message programs (for n00bs, that’s “laugh out loud”). On AOL, all the cool kids were doing it, and one’s online lingo was almost as important as the choice of a cool screen name in determining one’s place in the online heirarchy. A good name, like SHAFT5000, PhishDontBounce, or MyOwnLabMonkey earned the respect and even envy of one’s virtual peers, whereas a less fortunate name such as Oo Qaum oO, sekushiiakevitt, or UWNakedGuy brought bountiful electronic derision (sorry, guys). For those of us in the middle (muskrat300, Oisinwolf), our abbreviated and symbolic speech defined us, brought us together, made us a community. Of course, this was way before l337 was something with a formal definition, and before smileys could be transmitted as anything other than text. Granted that’s only six years removed from the present, but six years is a significant length of time on the Internet.

So when, about a year ago, a girl suggested that my use of “lol” made me sound like an eight year old, I was taken aback. Her argument that “haha” sounds more natural, given that that’s what one actually says, was compelling. But so ingrained was my habit with “lol”, my right ring finger slipping so naturally over the keys, that I couldn’t have changed even if I wanted to. Lately, I’ve noticed an alarming number of netizens invoking “haha” instead, and I don’t like the trend. I’ve even caught myself saying it a few times, which troubles me more than you know.

My issue is that, to my mind’s ear, “haha” rings sarcastic. I don’t deny that I’m a very sarcastic person, but that can’t account for all of it. “lol,” while it may be juvenile and even silly, is completely genuine, and replacing it with “haha” introduces even more ambiguity into a medium of communication from which almost all normal signifiers of spoken conversation (tone, posture, inflection) have already been removed. Nathan sounded off on the issue the other night:

muskrat3581: how do you feel re: haha v. lol

muskrat3581: you think about that

muskrat3581: i have to go

mtndewdius: hmm

Auto response from muskrat3581: unsalted butter is my punishment

mtndewdius: the haha vs lol debate is a very difficult one to answer, really…. haha seems (to me) to be slightly sarcastic in nature… like “haha that’s not funny”… I will go with the “heh” over “haha” but I would take “haha” over “hehe”… “hehe”, on the other hand is a caitlinesque thing to say… the lol is a little bit trite, but isn’t too bad if used occasionally, in my humblest of opinions

mtndewdius: but that is just my “i’m in Idaho and bored” two cents

Clearly I’m not the only net-nerd to carefully weigh their words and methods.

Also, I ate about a half pound of fresh crab tonight, cracked out of its shell while still hot, drizzled with melted butter. I don’t have anything terribly profound to say about the experience, I just felt like sharing.

Posted in Musings.

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