Washington DC- According to USA Today- Gallup Poll released Thursday, as many as 92 percent of web users admit that when typing the acronym "LOL," they are not actually laughing out loud.
"I'm honestly not surprised by the results," says Professor of Sociology at Davidson University, Don Amburrough. "Whenever I have to email homework assignments to my students, some of them write back, 'Thanks! LOL!' I just don't see how they could find it that funny."
According to the poll, a mere 8 percent claim that they do laugh out loud when typing "LOL," while 22 percent "just crack a smile," and a whopping 70 percent have no physical reaction at all.
"I use 'LOL' a lot when I write my friends messages on Facebook. It's just polite, but it doesn't mean I'm laughing," says Sandra Collins, a 24 year old film production assistant. She continues, "You can't really communicate emotions when someone can't see your face or hear your voice, so I just type 'LOL' to seem friendly." She pauses. "That sounds ridiculous when I say it out loud."
Representing the minority of "LOL" users who do laugh out loud when typing it, is Wayne Peterson, a Canadian message board moderator for Viewline, in Calgary, Alberta. Peterson claims that it was he who first coined the term twenty-five years ago in a teleconference chat room, and insists that the acronym's meaning hasn't changed for him.
"We had ways of portraying amusement in chat rooms before 'LOL,'" says Peterson. "We'd write 'grin' or 'laugh,' and, of course, we'd use the gamut of smiley face emoticons, but I felt that none of them really conveyed the fact that someone made you feel foolish by laughing out loud in a room all by yourself." He continues, "Today, of course, we see many variations, and I'm amazed daily whenever I see 'LOL' appear in obscure places. The 'true' use of 'LOL' has been tainted; people use it in the same way that they'd use 'grin' or 'hahahaha.' I guess this is [just] the evolution of words and language, but it makes me sad. 'LOL' is starting to go out of style, and one day it will become extinct, just like Latin."
Online researcher, Jack Clemmens, of Andrea Cotor Consulting, shares Peterson's opinion about the recent decline in popularity of 'LOL' and explains what might be in store for the future of internet lingo.
"I think we're moving toward a trend in exclamation points," says Clemmens. "While 'LOL' is still much shorter than 'laughing out loud,' it's getting to be too long by today's standards. People don't want to have to move their fingers over three different keys on the keyboard- it's just laborious and time-consuming. The exclamation point is only one character- it's quick, clear, and to the point."
Clemmens also believes that many of the founding fathers of English Literature would echo his sentiments if they were still alive. He adds, "[William] Shakespeare once wrote that 'brevity is the soul of wit.' I think that if he were around [today] and posted that in an internet chat room, he would use an exclamation point instead of 'LOL.'"