By its very nature, laughing online is a bit of a sham. One big fat digital lie.
We’re not actually laughing when writing a digi-chuckle – a belly laugh would render us incapable of typing coherently. No, we’re trying to convince other people that we’re listening and entertained by what they’ve got to say, our phonetic chuckles becoming such a fixture in our daily lives that they’ve almost become a courtesy, a stop-gap, a sign-off for 21st century conversations.
And now we now know the most popular. In a study carried out by researchers at Facebook, who spent a month monitoring how its billions of English language users tended to convey laughter in digital form, ‘haha’ trounced the opposition with 51.4 per cent, those fangled emojis came second in 33.7 per cent, ‘hehe’ fell surprisingly short at 12.7 per cent, while ‘LOL’ really is yesterday’s news, languishing in final place at 1.9 per cent.
Wondering where you fit into this? We’ve listed each one below and revealed what it says about you...
You’re a busy person, the kind who use a single ‘Ha’ to break off awkwardly long Twitter conversations and unwanted office email banter with John from accounts. You’re also a bit of a maverick too, not thinking twice before going rogue and switching caps lock on to emphasize your roaring response. Yes, oft punctuated with an exclamation mark, it also hints at an aggressive nature, but then given you’re already at the top of the digital comic food chain, you must be doing something right. And hey, if it’s good enough for Channing Tatum, it's probably alright for you.
But you're also frighteningly normal. You dream of doing your Friday big shop at Marks & Spencers and you really really love Friends. And that's fine, honestly.
Ah the emoji. Far more evolved than it was during the primitive, innocent time of MSN Messenger, it’s almost a language of its own these days. Yet more than anything it’s also Steve Jobs’ way of telling you that you’re lazy, and pitting you into one of two categories:
1) You're a teenage girl who is totally the coolest girl on WhatsApp ever who lacks the fundamental drive to truly articulate emotions via the juxtaposition or letters into words,
2) Someone who should know better but probably spends too much time on Tinder trying to be brief, charming, a bit cutesy. You probably have at least one selfie that involves skiing or unconscious tigers.
NOTE: The see-no-evil monkey and the little fellow with the giant blue tears that look like hands (you will never unsee those hands once you notice them) are brilliant, just not for conveying actual human emotion on a regular basis. Use your words like a big boy.
The softer, dafter brother of ‘Haha’ that also manages to neatly straddle the fence between creepy and completely insincere. On a subliminal level, if you're using 'Hehe' you know full well that most online laughter is ridiculously fake, you employ this cute line for the very fact that nobody would ever articulate this phonetically in real life – unless you’re voicing a cat in a Manga film.
Therefore, by bursting out the occasional (and undoubtedly strategic) 'hehe' you're acknowledging the desperate need to display reciprocal emotion but manage to avoid looking like the cold psychopath that you probably are safe in the knowledge that nobody thinks you’re laughing in real life. Like a laugh only not.
The fact it’s regularly written with lower case only emphasises your secret shame. It does sounds quite funny when you say it in your head though.
What is this, 1999? Who still uses this archaic acronym? Hipsters and mums, that’s who. Admittedly, it could probably be higher in the rankings if not for the fact most hipsters prefer to tell people what they’re doing by banging on a typewriter and sending the subsequent message to friends by carrier pigeon, not to mention the fact that mums generally just think it means ‘Lots Of Love’ anyway.
The basics of the LOL are simple though. You're stuck in the past. You pine for the simpler days of your school life, the years of dial-up internet connection and the best phone you've ever owned was a Nokia. You're the modern equivalent of your Dad calling people 'dude' or screaming 'cow-a-bunga" when he overtakes people on the motorway.