Sunday, 6 September 2009

You'd laugh to see a pudding roll...apparently

Are you a Lollard? Of course, I don’t mean, ‘Are you a follower of John Wycliffe, a critic of traditional religious beliefs in the 14th century?’ I mean ‘do you LOL when you Tweet, or Face Book (if I’m allowed to use FaceBook as a verb) or whatever it is you do?’ Because it seems to me that LOL (or Laughing Out Loud to the uninitiated) is fast becoming one of the most overused expressions in cyberspace. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a miserable old git. I probably find at least one thing every day that makes me laugh out loud. Why, only last week I saw a gentleman in London whose greying hair resembled nothing less than a Davy Crockett hat. This would have caused me to laugh out loud, had I not been sitting in a restaurant, surrounded by other diners who would undoubtedly have thought I was a couple of clicks away from full sanity. But I’d be worried if I was tempted to laugh out loud at some of the things I read on the internet.

My preferred social networking site is Twitter. I find its 140 character limit per message (or ‘Tweet’) encourages me to marshal my thoughts more carefully before I commit them to the screen. It’s no place for a rambler, which is curious, when you look at the way I tend to ramble within the environs of this Humble Blog. I’m beginning to wonder if I suffer from some kind of computational bipolarity, wittering on one minute and being succinct the next…but I digress. I have begun to worry about the things my fellow Twitterati find is worthy of a LOL. And fear not; I haven't had a punctuation bypass; I reproduce these Tweets exactly as they appear on Twitter:

Busy day ahead. Need an extra strong cup of coffee LOL.

Manchester. Yay. LOL.

Waiting for my Avon delivery. Fun stuff, its like christmas every 2 weeks! LOL

Having my hair done. LOL.

LOL what day is it?

There’s a whole lot of LOL-ing going on. Perhaps some of these individuals would, to coin the phrase oft used by my grandmother, laugh to see a pudding roll. In the space of the two minutes it took me to type a couple of sentences, LOL was used on Twitter no less than 1004 times. And the above examples are a fairly good indication of the things folks are LOL-ing about. Now, read them aloud, then laugh out loud at the designated time. Does it make you feel slightly unhinged? It does me. This is why I have never used LOL, either in my blog, or on Twitter. If I read something I think is amusing, I will send a message to its writer saying, ‘I think what you have just said is very amusing.’ Which probably makes me sound like some ludicrous caricature of an Englishman as featured in the Anglo-American sitcom, Pardon My Jaguar. Oh well…

I’d like to propose that we kick LOL into the long grass where it belongs or, if there isn‘t any long grass, into that gravelly area up against the house wall adjacent to the outside water tap. But some folk are so devoted to it that I fear the absence of a LOL-fix is likely to drive them half mad. So I have come up with a few new acronyms that might be used to more accurately reflect the writer’s feelings at the time. You will note that they follow a progression of intensity of emotion:

BRAS - Barely Raises A Smile
SQUITS - Smiles Quietly To Self
MALT - Mildly Amused - Little Titter
GLAG - Giggling Like A Girl (with thanks to Cordy Williams for this one!)
SIDOS - Sides In Danger Of Splitting
BLOIP - Big Laugh Occasioning Incontinence Pad
SOFISM - So Funny I Shat Myself

Of course, these new expressions will take a bit of time to get used to. I can’t expect LOL-ers to break their pernicious habit immediately. It’d probably be as dangerous as alcohol withdrawal. Each culprit (sorry, I mean victim; we live in a society where the idea of someone being guilty of something is anathema) will be allowed one LOL a week, its appropriateness to be determined by a new Quango, the ICOTOCAA - the International Council To Combat Acronym Abuse. If any ‘victim’ is found to have LOL-ed inappropriately, they will be issued with a LOLBO - a Laugh Out Loud Banning Order - and taken for re-training to ensure they have a proper sense of what is, or isn’t, funny. The first session will involve a slide show of criminally bad hairstyles (including aforesaid gent with Davy Crockett hair), selected highlights from You've Been Maimed, and the pilot episode of Pardon My Jaguar.

I hope you’ll not take my comments amiss. I’m sure there are no Lollards amongst my undoubtedly intelligent fellow-bloggers. But if there are, there is hope for you. Call my LOL helpline now on 0898 244 8487 for confidential help and advice. Calls charged at £1 per minute; minimum call length thirty seven minutes. And I guarantee you'll find nothing to LOL about when the phone bill arrives...

Stop press. If you find LOL a serious irritation then you can join BLOT - Ban LOL On Twitter. You know it makes sense!


Comedy Goddess said...

(That was too easy, how could I not?)

Your list of acronyms is perfect!

Madame DeFarge said...

I can't stand the 'LOLs'. Rarely is anything that funny.

What about 'WITLESS' - 'Wonder If The Laughing Explains Slight Stupidity'. Or 'MAD' - 'Mirth Applied Derisively'. Or 'BARKING' - 'Bemused Amusement Rarely Keeps Interest - Nope, Gone'.

chris hale said...

CG - Thank you! And thank you for not using the 'L' phrase!

MDF - Get back in the knife box, you're too sharp for me! Why, you're so quick you should be working for HMG! Oh...I are...x

Sandy Calico said...

Oh no, how am I going to comment? I did laugh out loud whilst reading this post.
I used to have a Twitter rule that I would only type the offending three letter acronym, or TLA, if indeed I did laugh out loud.
I am ashamed to admit that I joined the ranks of LOL'ers. I feel I'm being rude if I don't reply to a LOL with a LOL.
I will of course stop now. I can see the error of my ways.
I un-followed someone on Twitter once because they put LMAO after every tweet.
Lots Of Love, Sandy ;-)
PS Are emoticons allowed?!
PPS What about an exclamation mark at the end of every single tweet?!!!

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I like the bit where you tell us to laugh out loud where we're supposed to and then see if we feel a bit unhinged! I've been going through your list doing it, and I can hear the family whispering outside the door ...

I'll try my favourite one again ... "Having my mane done, LOL" Ha ha ha, hee, hee, hee! Oh this is fun!

chris hale said...

Sandy - you raise an interesting point regarding emoticons and exclamation marks. I find that I have begun to use (or perhaps over-use) both, and have also become addicted to the use of full stops in groups of three...

Raph - Just pop your head round the door and let the family know you're conducting a scientific experiment. I'm sure they'll understand!

She Means Well... said...

Oh yes, I seem to have developed a bit of a.... habit too.

I too avoid saying LOL like the plague - but as people I admire (including such dizzying heights as the great Mr. S. Fry) use it more and more, I'm starting to wonder if there's some secret society I'm missing out on.

Maybe the LOL is the Twitter equivalent of a Mason's Handshake?

But then again, maybe I should start responding to all LOLs with SLOITY (stop laughing or I'll thump you)?

mo.stoneskin said...


Actually, for a while I saw that R... One that Comedy Goddess used but hadn't. a clue what it meant. Then one day I Googled it.

chris hale said...

SMW - Someone recently said that Stephen Fry is 'a stupid person's idea of what a clever person is like.' But his use of the L-phrase surprises me; perhaps I'll have to take him to task over it.

Oh, and I love SLOITY It has a Celtic feel to it!

Mo - I believe there are variations to said phrase. Perhaps you can come up with some yourself. BTW, have you moved yet?

Derrick said...

Hi Chris,

SOFISM! Does it show?

chris hale said...

Derrick - No, the brown trousers have preserved your dignity.

Come to think of it, I could have gone for SOPHISM - So Patently Hilarious I...