‘LOL’ on the wane as text language evolves

The way in which people indicate laughter when texting and communicating online is changing, new research from Facebook shows.

In the social giant’s latest study, titled The Not-So-Universal Language of Laughter, data scientists analysed users’ posts and comments on its pages to determine which ‘e-laugh’ methods are most popular.

It was found that 15 per cent of the texts analysed contained at least one written indication of laughter, but use of the classic ‘LOL’ (laugh out loud) only made up 1.9 per cent of these, cbc.ca reports.

Far more common was ‘haha’, used 51 per cent of the time. The happy face emoji was another popular choice, accounting for 33.7 per cent instances, while ‘hehe’ came in third place at 13.1 per cent.

When ‘LOL’ first entered texters’ digital vocabularies, it was reserved as a way to indicate that something was funny enough to make the writer ‘Laugh Out Loud’. As its use became more widespread, however, the meaning evolved – it became a way to simply recognise that something was humorous. As a result, it seems people are finding new ways to express their genuine laughter.

Facebook’s researchers also looked at how the different genders use e-laughter terms, and found that women are more likely to use emojis than men, while the reverse is true for ‘haha’. Men also prefer ‘hehe’, while female users type ‘LOL’ more often.