Off Topic: Two Types of LOL

No, adventurers, this post is not about League of Legends. Off topic, remember?

Today, I’m going to talk about texting.

As someone who has always appreciated proper grammar (I did major in English, after all), I spent much of my life having very negative feelings towards textspeak. Particularly LOL – that stands for “laughing out loud,” in case you weren’t aware of that. As a teenager, I had a very specific idea of what a person who says “LOL” is like. You know, the blonde cheerleader with the stereotypical California girl accent who says stuff like “omigosh” and “like, totally.”

I’ve grown up a lot since then, and in that time I have learned many things. Perhaps the most important of those things is this: there are two types of LOL.

Type one is the one mentioned above, with the whole California girl thing and the omigosh and the stereotypes. Those people do exist, mostly in teen television dramas like Degrassi and 90210. The second type of LOL, though, is the type that conveys tone. It isn’t even really meant to be read as part of the sentence. It’s just a subtle cue that says “hey, this sentence is meant to be laughed at and interpreted in a joking manner.”

This second type of LOL is actually pretty important to texted communication. Why is that? Because in a text message, conveying tone is a daunting task. You don’t have intonation, facial expressions, or body language at your disposal. Oftentimes you’ll send a text message and the message won’t be received in the way you in intended. I’ve had plenty of times where I had to explain that I was joking, or being sarcastic, or NOT being sarcastic – it’s tough to get that across when all you have to work with is some words.

Those are the times when LOL is there for you. You tag it on the end of your sentence not to say that you’re literally laughing out loud – that’s llol – but rather to say that your words are intended to be funny. It helps to communicate your tone so that a miscommunication is less likely to happen. Personally, I like to tag a little “haha” at the end of the sentence instead, but to each their own.

I suppose that in this postmodern era, emojis could serve a similar purpose, perhaps even doing so in a superior way. But for those of us who don’t have the perfect smiley face for every situation, textual cues are the only recourse. So that’s why I’m thankful for LOL. At least the second type. The first one can stay in California.

This post is part of a segment called Off Topic, where I blog about something that isn’t a normal part of my repertoire. Adventure Rules is a blog about geeky habits like video games and tabletop RPGs. If you’re into that sort of thing, be sure to check out the home page to read my regular content. Whether you choose to hang around or not, thank you for taking the time to read this post. Perhaps I’ll see you again in a future edition of Off Topic!

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