Laughing out loud. LOL. When you read a friend’s embarrassing text, watch gangnam style on your friends wall for the first time, or reply to a sarcastic joke the term LOL has transcended into our every day vocabulary to simplify the expression of laughter in today’s culture.
The term LOL was said to be coined by Johannes Gutenburg with his invention of movable type in the 15th century resulting in written language’s evolution. Today the meme, LOL, has gone viral through the use of the internet and social media, and has also crossed over the gap between computer-mediated communication to face-to-face/human interaction.
What does it really mean to laugh out loud? So many people use this terminology on a daily basis, that it has numbed our sensation of laughing out loud. We no longer mean that we are actually laughing out loud, unless we usually clarify to the other person we are conversing with that we actually are. The meme has evolved. Much like the flu was a serious medical illness in the medieval era resulting in many deaths, the meme was taken very seriously at first. However, with antibodies built up against the flu and the development of modern medicine, the flu is not as serious of a condition as it was first thought to be. In the same way our “memetic compound” has built up its immune system to play down the literal meaning of LOL.
The picture above represents a sarcastic message to LOL’s sarcastic nature. Today LOL is treated more as a hashtag for that is funny.
The meme has evolved and has broadened its definition far beyond its true meaning. It stands for literal laughing, snickering, sarcasm, humor, interpersonal communication, and many more. It has had offspring and has created a family of slogans for the same characteristics of laughing at loud, which are more or less indistinguishable, such as lawlz, lols, l.o.l.o.l.o.,lulz, and lmao. It has manifested itself into other forms of media such as music, i.e. the group LMFAO and songs i.e. Kanye West’s Got To Have It
Finally, the term LOL can be added to our social web just to signify humor from the distributor’s perspective. This means that there is no need for a response from a second party. The LOL is a rhetorical statement.
When we identify the three letters that are put together, we can identify the category of the subject matter as humorous. For example, it probably will be safe to say that you will never come across LOL within the middle a financial report of a fortune 500 company. lol.