As LOL Dies Out, The Ha-Scale Rises From the Ashes: A Look at The Latest Evolution of How People Communicate Laughter via Instant Messenger

Ever since the inception of instant messaging there has been a set of acronyms, an IM – short hand if you will, that makes the lives of all the instant messengers out there in cyberspace a tad more efficient, albeit confusing at times to the uninitiated. I never subscribed to this IM language despite being a proud member of the children of technology. I always typed out verbosely that I had to go somewhere instead of leaving the industry standard g2g. For years I was confused when a chatting session concluded with the other party typing ttyl (talk to you later for those of you as out of the loop as me). Of all these acronyms, the most used for many years was LOL, to let the other chatter know that their joke or quip had made the user laugh out loud. LOL was so ubiquitous at a point that hipster instant messaging aficionados would use it outside of the instant messaging bubble in verbal communications, which I found to be absolutely unacceptable.

I can remember vividly the first time I heard LOL cross over into casual speech… because I vomited a little bit in my mouth. Walking down South Street in Philadelphia heading to my favorite poster shop, Beyond the Wall, at the tender age of 14, I watched as a dog sidled up to a sleeping homeless man and mark said homeless guy as his personal territory. The very pierced, very tattooed owner of the dog began to chuckle before stopping herself, turning to her also very pierced, very tattooed lesbian partner and stating quite blandly “LOL.” My mind wandered, as it usually does, to a bedroom where these two women were scissoring as their legion of exotic pets pissed all over a bunch of homeless folks who they had lured into their home with the promise of free food and orgies. The women’s faces were expressionless, no laughter existed in this room, but as they neared the end of their sick fantasy they turned their attention away from the homeless men pet pissing extravaganza only to lock eyes for a moment before letting out a simultaneous LOL. The scene was simply too horrifying for my young mind to handle and I began to feel a swelling in my stomach that I knew all too well. I immediately closed my mouth and swallowed to avoid the embarrassment of vomiting all over South Street, although I’m sure I wouldn’t have been the first or last. But I digress…

After informally surveying hundreds of people over the past 5 months and chatting it up attempting to elicit a jovial response, I have discovered, much to my delight, that LOL is no longer the majority’s choice for communicating laughter online. The children of technology have elected a far superior method that lets the jokester know just how well his or her quip was received. I have fittingly entitled this system The Ha Scale. The standard observational humor comment is usually rewarded with one “ha”, while funnier jokes receive more, with three being most people’s threshold. Of course if someone completely looses their shit you might see something like “hahahahahhahahahhhhhaaa” come up on your screen. This response always cracks me up as I picture the person sitting in their desk chair laughing out loud and finding the need to pound away at those H and A keys like there is no tomorrow. The true sign of hardcore laughter is the inability to complete a simple task. Once this H-A pounding is going on you can really get a good idea of how hard your chatting partner is laughing by seeing how many times they failed at attempting to type alternating keys on the keyboard.

Interestingly enough I’ve found that some people will throw a “he” onto the end of their comment to signify that they were being sarcastic, or even roll with the “he” instead of “ha” as their laughing scale. These “he” people are sly cats, usually female and are significantly more likely to cheat on you than the standard “ha” person. Personally, I’m just gonna stick with my wordy responses. If you really get me to laugh I’ll let you know with a “that’s pretty damn funny” type comment, otherwise you’ll have to deal with chatting with me without getting constant reminders of how funny you are. If you want to hear me laugh, give me a call. If you can think of a time when someone typed something so funny that you typed four or more “ha”s in a row, or you have some alternate method for laughing online, post it up with a comment.

– Rich

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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. SCISSOR ME TIMBERS!!! hahahahahahahahaha

  2. this is great, rich. love it.

  3. I guess your laughter from the scissoring scenario had died down by the time you typed the comment Jess, since you astonishingly typed those alternating keys perfectly, a rarity once you pass the 4 “ha” level. I’m glad you thought I hit a 9 on The Ha Scale, and thanks Nors, much appreciated.

  4. Long time reader, first time poster here. Great article Rich, I was LOL’ing the whole way through.

  5. This article is great, and it makes me think far too much about the times I have heard people use LOL and OMG in everyday conversation….too many times…..

  6. Much thanks for the praise lady and gent.

  7. HE!

  8. When I type excessive “haha’s” it is in a very sarcastic manner in which I usually taunt my chat partner, it is really quite effective.

  9. ha ha

  10. geat lol


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