A recent study by Facebook, the social network giant, has shown that the expression ‘LOL’ is quickly losing in popularity when people want to show that they are amused. Instead, people are now turning to emojis or a range of different ways of writing ‘haha’. In fact, using LOL to signal amusement is now classed as ‘so last year’. Facebook found that at least 51% of users now prefer to simply say ‘haha’.
The study was conducted across users in this country and it was called ‘The Not-So-Universal Language of Laughter’. It was launched when an article was posted in the New Yorker that discussed the issue of ‘e-laughter’ in April of this year.
The terms of e-laughter – ‘ha ha’, ‘ho ho’, ‘hee hee’, ‘heh’ – are implicitly understood by just about everybody. But, in recent years, there’s been an increasingly popular newcomer: ‘hehe’. Not surprisingly, it’s being foisted upon us by youth.
Following this article, Facebook launched their own study. They wanted to be able to find out how users express laughter, amusement and fun. The results of the study were then divided to look at location, gender and age. The results were nothing short of interesting.
First of all, it was found that ‘haha’, in various methods of spelling and various lengths, was the most popular of all. In second place was the laughing emoji. Third place was taken up by ‘hehe’. Surprisingly, only 1.9% of users still use the term ‘LOL’ (which means Laugh Out Loud).
It was also found that women and younger people had a strong preference for emoji usage when they are tickled. Men, by contrast, prefer ‘hehe’. In the New Yorker, the writer suggested that this could be due to the fact that ‘he’ is a pronoun for men, and this may be why male users have a preference for it.
However, the author had also suggested that the term ‘hehe’ is ‘foisted upon us by youth’, as stated, but that may not be entirely true. In fact, the data uncovered by Facebook shows a very different picture. They found that those who use an emoji tend to be slightly younger than those who use ‘haha’, but it is the older people who still use ‘LOL’ or who are now using the new ‘hehe’ phrase.
Then, there are those who like to make their hahas and hehes longer. Others want to make sure that people know we are truly laughing out loud (LOL-ing) by using capital letters. Amusingly enough, many people have some sort of lengthy version of ‘haha’ or ‘hehe’ in the autocorrect on their phone, most of the time with numerous spelling mistakes, in so far as a sound can be spelled wrong, that is. Then, there are those who go to extreme lengths as well.
You might have noticed that we cut the plot at 20 letters, but as with any behavior on the Internet, there is a long tail of laughter lengths. Our automatic regular expression parser gave up after trying to get through a haha over 600 letters long!
In the study, it was found that the average length of an expression of laughter is just four letters. This means ‘haha’ and ‘hehe’ trump the list. This is probably a good thing, since a 600 letter haha would fill up a screen.
LOL, meanwhile, may be dying, but there are still a few loll and lolz expressions going around. Interestingly, other commonly used terms by e-laughers, including ‘pmsl’, ‘lmao’ and ‘rofl’ are not mentioned at all.
The Facebook study also looked at whether there were notable differences depending on location. It was found that people in Chicago are particularly fond of the emoji. By contrast, ‘haha’ is most commonly used in Seattle.
The results of the study are already being questioned, however, as more and more people now express their amusement with a well-placed gif. At the same time, people are encouraged to test out different ‘hahaha’ versions in the Google search box to see some funky animations. One of them is a dancing fox that is guaranteed to make you laugh.