You’ve had your laughs. Now it’s just lazy. LOL–laughing out loud–has lost its meaning through overuse, misuse, and abuse. LOL came into use in the 80’s in chatrooms and forums as a quick way of saying, “What you just said was so funny, I was laughing out loud.” (Thanks for the shortcut, Wayne Pearson!) This was just one step shy of ROFL–rolling on the floor laughing, the ultimate response to humor. (Sadly, the latter has been mostly replaced by its potty-mouthed offspring, LMFAO.)

LOL is now used in every imaginable situation. When you’re being sarcastic, use LOL to let the offended party know you were j/k–just kidding. If you’re prone to poorly executed jokes, use LOL to let people know that they should find it funny. And they should respond with–you got it–LOL. When something is completely unfunny, if not downright rude, use LOL instead of telling them what you really think; don’t rock the boat, just go with the flow. Regardless of whether something is mildly humorous or the funniest thing you’ve ever heard in your life, use LOL. It’s quick and to the point. Everyone and their 90-year-old grandmother knows what LOL means, right?

But what does it mean now? It certainly doesn’t mean you’re laughing out loud. There are people that use LOL in every status update, text, email, blog entry, forum post, and instant message. In the rare event someone actually picks up a pen and puts it to paper, they write it there, too. Soon they’ll be putting it in their school papers and resumes, if they aren’t already. (“Dear Employer: I have limited experience, but bring a fresh perspective to the position. LOL.”) If they’re really laughing out loud in all of these situations, then therapy and medication will work wonders.

In most cases, thank God, professional help would be overkill. People likely to use the representation for humor know LOL has come to mean much more. They know it can be used in many situations for many different purposes. But what they don’t know for sure is what the heck someone else means when they type LOL. They must try to take it in context, make assumptions, and hope for the best. And if all else fails, respond with LOL, leaving it up to the other party to figure out what your return LOL means. Heaven forbid if they respond to your LOL with another one of their own. Such traps lead to suspicion and rumors.

Perhaps the worst offense of LOL is its abuse in the form of LOLOL. Or even worse, LOLOLOLOLOL. One can assume that these are exaggerated forms of LOL, intending to magnify the meaning. But they literally make no sense whatsoever. Laughing out loud out loud? Really? Or is it laughing out loud out laughing out loud? Either way, it’s utter nonsense. We must put an end to this before it gets any further out of hand.

There can be only one solution: put LOL to rest. Vow to never use it again. Be done with it. Let it rot.

But wait. How in the world are we going to express humor through the written word ever again?

Ha! Or, hehe. Even hohoho. These and many more were used long before anyone laughed out loud for the very first time. They served us well for decades. Maybe longer. (Certainly, Shakespeare made use of the occasional interjection representing laughter? King Henry VIII appears to have been fond of it.) It’s time to bring them back.

We’ve abandoned effective communication for the efficiency of, depending on your typing technique, four or five keystrokes, resulting in LOL. There’s something to be said for efficiency, but too many friendships have ended–or ill-fated romances begun–because of it. (“I love you. LOL.”) Sometimes going back to the way things were makes the world a better place. Vinyl records, for example.

We’ve agreed then. We’re bringing ha and its many useful derivatives back. But certainly, we need a refresher course? (For those that were born into social media, we’ll consider it your introductory course.)

Perhaps the first and most widely used is ha. It expresses in just two letters what LOL does in three. And where repetition fails to logically emphasize the degree of humor with LOL (e.g. LOLOLOL), it is a most effective tool with ha. Haha is funnier than ha but not as funny as hahaha. And you have the added benefit of using capital letters for further emphasis: HAHAHA is funnier than hahaha. Or, mix cases for added meaning through expression: hahaha means something entirely different from hahaHA. (It’s been argued that LOL can also be used in the lower-case form, but that’s really just laziness.)

More subtle humor can be expressed with hehe. (Sadly, one cannot use the single form he as it will only serve to confuse people. The slightly exaggerated form of hee is a possible solution if you don’t mind sounding a bit unstable.) Though it doesn’t express outright laughter, hehe in the correct context can suggest a certain playfulness, even a naughty sense of humor. And as it is with any of the offspring of ha, hehe can make excellent use of both repetition (e.g. hehehehe) and case (e.g. heheHE). Hehe is also the best of all the humorous interjections with another kind of repetition, wherein only one of the vowels is repeated, as in heheheeeee. Isn’t that fun? It makes a nice squealing sound that is far more pleasant than a stuck pig. (LOOOOOOOOL or LOLLLLLLLLLLLLL, on the other hand, will make you look foolish.)

Need a good belly laugh? Try hohoho. But use it sparingly during the holidays.

Going for self-deprecating humor? Make careful use of heehaw. In the wrong situation, it makes you sound like an ass.

Some occasions call for an evil laugh. Use the red-headed step-child of ha, mwahaha. He, too, makes good use of repetition of the last vowel, such as mwahahahaaaaaa. And he has a fraternal twin, bwahaha, most suitable for use in the month of October.

Likewise, hehe has an even more playful cousin, teeheehee. And who can forget the deranged member of the family, quite possibly the result of inbreeding, mwahahateeheehohoho.

The advantages of ha over LOL have become clear. Ha, and any number of other onomatopoeic offspring, is far more successful at delivering a message than LOL. Little is left to the imagination. Plus, it’s fun to both write and read. For the record, LOL doesn’t even have the distinction of being called an onomatopoeia. And where’s the fun in that?

With the return of ha to its proper place in modern day written communication–online and off–what should become of LOL? Mwahahahaaaa! Let it languish in the dictionary. (Apologies, Wayne.)

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