According to new research by Facebook, LOL’s dominance is coming to an end. The classic Internet slang term, which stands for “laugh out loud,” has been replaced by “haha,” laughing emojis, and “hehe” as popular ways to indicate something is funny online.
Facebook’s research team decided to find out how we e-laugh now after the New Yorker published an article on the subject.
Around the world, 1.49 billion people are using the social network monthly. That’s a treasure trove of data to dig into. To track laugh patterns, Facebook looked at posts and comments shared on the social network during the last week of May, not including private Messenger conversations.
During that week, 15% of people typed some sort of laugh. The most popular online laugh was “haha,” which was used by 51% of people.
The second most popular expression for a laugh is a happy face emoji preferred by 33.7%, and third is “hehe” at 13.1%. LOL was only used by 1.9% of people.
Facebook found some other interesting details in its research. Emoji are more popular with women than men. Southern states are bigger fans of LOL than the rest of the U.S., and emoji have taken off in the Midwest, while haha and hehe dominate in the West.
In the beginning, LOL was used to indicate something was so hysterical, it actually made us audibly laugh. But as LOL spread, it was increasingly used by people who were in fact only chuckling, or worse, showing no outward sign of laughter at all.
The term gave birth to a number of more figurative variations, such as ROFLOL (rolling on the floor laughing out loud) and LMAO (laughing my a** off).
It’s unclear exactly when we reached peak LOL, but it likely started its downhill journey when parents and grandparents picked it up. (Parents adorably started using it incorrectly in text messages, mistaking it for “lots of love.” ) Facebook found that LOL and hehe users skew older than people laughing with a haha or emoji.
Whatever the case, saying LOL online these days is like telling someone their outfit is groovy, or imploring an overexcited co-worker to take a chill pill.
Don’t give up hope, lovers of LOL. Trends are cyclical, Birkenstocks are making a comeback. LOL might be funny again in a few years.