No One Really Says LOL Anymore, According to New Study

AOL Instant Messenger revolutionized how tweens and teens socialized. Not only did it probably help everyone learn to type faster than 225 words per minute — the minimum speed needed to become certified by the National Court Reporters Association — but it also popularized emoticons, and abbreviations.

Nowadays, AIM is just a nostalgic relic. According to a 2011 report, AIM held a 0.7% share of the world messenger market. Emojis have replaced emoticons.

Craziest of all, “LOL” is also going the way of the dino, too, according to a recent study by Facebook.

The new analysis looked at content from the final week of May and found that “haha” is the most common way to express laughter on Facebook. Specifically, 51.4% of people used the term “haha,” while 33.7% used an emoji to express laughter. “LOL” is so infrequently used — just 1.9% — that people actually say “hehe” more, which had a 13.1% share.

Gender, age, and location all factored in to the way laughter is expressed. Men tended to use “haha” and hehe” more, while women usually chose an emoji.

The study also had some rather unexpected findings. “Hehe” might be a more childish sounding form of laughter, but the median age of users who preferred to say “haha” was actually lower than that of those who chose “hehe.” In other words, the younger Facebook users aren’t saying “hehe” — the older ones are. The median age of those who relied on “LOL” was also the highest median age of anyone in the group, which included Facebook users ages 13 to 70.

Location also seemed to play a factor. Oddly enough, Ohio actually seemed to be torn between “haha” and “LOL.” On the West Coast, people say “haha” and “hehe” more so than anywhere else in the country, while Southern states tended to stick with “LOL.” In the Midwest, they like to use emoji, as do folks in Florida and Wyoming.

The study was limited, though. It did leave out the ways laughter is expressed in other languages, such as the Spanish “jaja” or “jeje,” a limitation which may have eschewed the findings.


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