August 14, 2015
“LOL” is dying. That is, according to Facebook data released last week that explored the expression of e-laughter by Facebook users.
Looking at posts and comments posted to the social network in the last week of May, Facebook was able to identify the most popular digital expressions of laughter used. The data showed, surprisingly, that the “LOL” – an organic production of the younger Millennial generation that has been ingrained in our everyday vernacular – is actually a dying digital expression, with only 1.9 percent of users writing “LOL” or a variation of it (“LOLOLOL”, “lol”, etc.).
Earlier this Spring, Sarah Larson wrote a piece in The New Yorker titled, “Hahaha VS. Hehehe,” which explored the history and current landscape of our digital expression of laughter. The piece looked at society’s changing attitudes towards the mere “haha” to other forms of e-laughter – from the “hahaha” and “HAHAHA” to the “hehe” and modern “LOL”. Her piece, though, used merely anecdotal examples from her real life. The data provided by Facebook aimed to provide context to that discussion using real data from actual human beings.
The blog post from Facebook (titled “The Not-So-Universal Language of Laughter”) featured all of the company’s findings on the online usage of e-laughter on the platform. In the last week of May, the company found that, across the board for all ages between 13 years and 70 years, variations of “haha” remain the most popular. They also found when users expressed their laughter through “haha” or “hehe”, the most popular variations came in four-count and six-count letter words (“haha” or “hahaha” and “hehe” or “hehehe”).
Some other interesting takeaways from the data include the propensity for female users to express laughter through emoji at rates higher than their male counterparts. Men, on the other hand, write a variation of “haha” more often than women. And, while less users are expressing laughter through “LOL” these days, the ones who are using it tend to be on the older end of the age spectrum, with emojis (unsurprisingly) being more popular among younger people.
There’s a lot of insight from the data on e-laughter. If you want to know more, you can take a look at Facebook’s full study and methodology here.
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