A couple of days ago when I was travelling in a bus, I happened to overhear a interesting conversation. A group of teenage lads who were contemplating upon a pair of shoes to buy and one of
them made a funny observation that made me laugh. But what was rather interesting was the reaction of one of his friends. Instead of actually laughing out, he merely uttered "LOL".
It was not the case that I did not know what LOL meant, but it's use and implementation in face to face conversation seemed a bit out of place and was rather awkward. Later in the day, when I was narrating the incident to my elder sister, she did not find anything weird in it as it was quite commonly used. It is an official word now, and it has even found it's place in the Oxford dictionary. When words such as OMG, LOL, and FYI were included in the Oxford dictionary, they sparked off controversies, with the language purists arguing that such words will dilute the English language. Those who compiled the Oxford dictionary argued that terms like LOL had been in use since the 1980's and their research traced their origins in the archives of Usenet, an early Internet forum. Intrigued and interested on this topic, I decided to run a Google Search on this topic and I stumbled upon interesting results.
Among millions of spam pages and sites which only matched a single keyword I typed, I found a webpage (http://pages.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/~crwth/LOL.html) that belonged to none other than the man who coined the term LOL- Wayne Pearson. He explains how he first used LOL when he found himself laughing out loud over something his friend mentioned in the chat room. Smileys could have worked for him, but he wanted to send across the message that he truly laughed and not merely smiling. So he used the term LOL instead, and as they say, the rest is history. He went on to rue the fact that the word has lost it's intent over the years and is being used loosely for just about anything.
And that man does have a point. After all, if you LOL with your friends on chat, SMS or anything, it's still fine but when it seeps into face to face conversations, that's when it gets weird. Imagine you just cracked a joke and you got a LOL as a response. How will that feel? Also, it's difficult to decipher the true meaning behind it. Did they really find your joke funny? Or did they just merely say LOL to be polite, or did they just do it just to express the fact that the joke was so bad that they didn't want to waste their energy on proper laughter? Even in the chat room, or on SMS, does it mean they're really laughing out when they type LOL, ROFL, or LMAO?
I am not a crusader or a guard of the Queen's English, nor do I spend sleepless nights worrying about it's dropping standards, but there is nothing wrong in exercising those facial muscles, right? After all, laughter is the best medicine.
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