The ltle bk of txt msgs (published by Michael O'Mara Books in Great Britain in the year 2000 (or Y2K)) lists lol in the third Chapter entitled WANT2TLKFST? (Want to talk fast?).

The entry for lol states:

"lots of luck or laughing out loud"

The usage of lol for wishing someone luck seems to have rapidly declined and remains solely for the purpose of laughing out loud.

gl is the acknowledged abbreviation for wishing someone luck - standing for "good luck".

Why, given the opportunity to choose, people (or ppl) still insist on laughing out loudly is one of the paradoxes of the post-modern age.

LOL drift (as I've somewhat pretentiously named it) is an interesting linguistic phenomenon: the phrase has leapt its bounds as a signifier of its typist actually laughing out loud and become, to some people, an all-purpose humor mark, joke acknowledgement, the yin to :-)'s yang.

This is what the human mind does to symbols, once they become effortless (you can't force a laugh with the ease of pushing three buttons) -- disentagles them from their origins and starts going on functionality alone (though the original evokation, in this case, still isn't swept away by any means; in the first instant your eyes* see the first first sentence of this writeup, before you actually start to read it, it looks oddly cheerful; a bit like hearing a distant laugh and then realizing it's just a bird).

*Or my eyes, at least. Maybe I spend too much time online.

I can verify, as a teenager who uses Instant Messenger programs, that lol drift has not slowed. 'Lol' is now used in many situations where it is impossible to believe that the other person, or any person, would actually be laughing.

These include:

1. To express agreement with another's sentiments.
lol thats so tru

2. To express merely that one has received and understood the previous comment, equivalent to 'Roger'; or that one has finished typing, equivalent to 'Over'.

3. Before a one-word comment
lol cwl, lol noob

4. And frequently before or after any comment. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that 'lol' tends to come before a sentence fragment, and after a correct sentence. This is hardly a rigid rule though.
lol dunno, my dog died lol

5. In place of punctuation, such as a comma, full stop or question mark.
I did dis lol and den dat, I am lol, what are u doin lol

6. And of course, where the person has laughed, or more accurately, where they would have tittered if in company. If they actually laugh involuntarily, they may instead use a phrase like ial, rofl, or even hahaha.
lol ur rite

Many people, myself included, find the use of lol incredibly annoying for this reason. It is so overused that it conveys no information, yet is sprinkled around liberally by people who eliminate punctuation and vowels for the sake of speed. There seems to be no purpose to adding it, and in many places it seems as inappropriate as laughing at a funeral ("I'm at a funeral lol").

However, the whole ideology of anti-lolism may have something to do with the way different parties view the internet. More regular and experienced users of the World Wide Web, newsgroups and forums (and Everything2!) tend to see communication over the internet as something that should be legible, in correct written English, and convey useful information to those who have to read it. People don't make webpages, contact sitemasters or create forum posts if they have nothing to say. This is primarily due to the fact that webpages and forum posts are in the public view for the long-term, and that replies are usually at least several days apart. The etiquette is similar to that of letter writing.

IM chat, on the other hand, is usually private, is not recorded (at least, not anywhere easily accessible) and conversation is conducted in real-time. Many people who use IM tend to use it much more than they do anything else on the internet, and they also tend to send a lot of txt msgs. One can tell an IM user who joins a forum as they typically create a thread, then double-post wondering why no-one has replied after five minutes. IM users therefore talk through the software as they would in a normal conversation, which tends to consist of banalities, pleasantries, and tautologies which would be irritating in a written letter, forum post or webpage.

Normal conversation, especially between friends or strangers who are trying hard to socialise, consists of much laughing, more often even than a sitcom canned laugh track. One study found that in day-today life, most laughter was triggered by comments such as 'I'll see you guys later', or 'What the hell was that supposed to mean?'. Laughing increases solidarity. Friends laugh about mutual enemies. One laughs at a joke only if one agrees with the sentiment expressed. Good friends, lovers or strangers who wish to become friends or lovers will engage in mild banter and teasing, laughing to show that it is not really malicious. One laughs with equals, not with masters or servants.

When a person types 'lol', then, they may actually be expressing that if they were sitting round a campfire, sharing the gazelle they had caught that day with the rest of the tribe, a circle of friends surrounded by darkness and monsters, sharing communal gossip, boasting big boasts, swapping survival tips and telling old tales, instead of physically alone, and in different cities, connected only by data packets and telecom wires; they would actually be laughing. Or maybe they're just fuckwits.

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