“How ‘LOL’ Became a Punctuation Mark”

“Kim’s “LOL” offers, instead of laughter, an ironic aaaaaand scene to the humblebrag she’s typed into her Instagram caption field. There is pretty much nobody in the world who is less likely to find herself with “nothing to wear” than Kim Kardashian West; her LOL acknowledges that. Her LOL suggests the many threads of irony required to weave an outfit of black-rectangled censors. Her LOL is a wink, rendered as an acronym. Her LOL functions as, essentially, a punctuation mark…
McWhorter gave, in his essay on the matter, the example of Jocelyn and Annabelle, two friends who are texting with each other. “Jocelyn texts ‘where have you been?’” McWhorter wrote, “and Annabelle texts back ‘LOL at the library studying for two hours.’ How funny is that, really?” (Not very.) Instead, McWhorter argued, the “LOL” in the women’s exchange is standing in as, effectively, a marker for empathy. It is replacing the things that can be achieved in an in-person conversation — the nodding of the head, the contact of the eyes, the tiny gestures that together lend the “L” to the “IRL” — with a three-letter symbol. “LOL,” McWhorter put it, “no longer ‘means’ anything. Rather, it ‘does something’ — conveying an attitude — just as the ending ‘ed’ doesn’t ‘mean’ anything but conveys past tense. LOL is, of all things, grammar.”…
Which is also to say that Kim Kardashian West — with her naked selfie and her naked self — have done what centuries’ worth of writers have failed to do: create punctuation that suggests, in its winking way, sarcasm."

We really need punctuation for online sarcasm — and, thinking about it, ‘lol’ is totally it, if it just wasn’t used quite as much in non-sarcastic situations.

tbh, I really don’t like the lol punctuation mark. I know a lot of people who use it, I have a lot of communications full of it, and it kind of annoys me. I need to unpack all of the reasons why; mainly, I feel like it makes everything less serious and it asks the other person to also engage with the topic kind of flippantly and mindlessly. And if you want to introduce something serious, or like finally make a firm decision about where we are meeting for brunch, you have to push against the lol a little bit.

Same deal with ‘haha’. Which is a little bit apologetic somehow.

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