Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why We Need LOL

I speak two languages: snob and sarcasm.

Snob is my written language; sarcasm is my colloquial language. Whenever I write anything -- fiction, prose, emails, grocery lists--I always used correct punctuation, sophisticated vocabulary, and rhetorical flourish. I use semi-colons in my text messages. Hell, I even capitalize first person "I" and spell out "you."

Sarcasm is my colloquial language. I know, I know--sarcasm is only funny to the person using it and is the sword of language. But in the home I grew up in, sarcasm was as valuable as a lifeboat on the Titanic. After years of wielding it in the name of survival, it flows naturally from my mouth, more free than air.

When I was in school to get my teaching credential, I recall a professor warning to "never use sarcasm with students" because it causes psychological damage. At the time, I wondered how I was going to teach anyone anything if I had to be mute.

Then I learned that I needed sarcasm to not only survive my childhood, but also to survive my profession. Have I scarred any teens during my teaching career? Probably. But fuck it, I've always been a bit Darwinian. And the students always know that I'm just kidding. I mean, the voice inflection that cloaks those biting words provides a cushion, right?

But, speaking sarcasm  is so much easier than writing it. And when one is texting (or IMing) it is meant to flow like conversation; it's digital dialogue. Therefore, taking the time to chose that perfect word or orchestrate language so that tone comes through is just practical or reasonable, even for masters of the written word.

Thank God for LOL and :).  Tacking one--or both if the sarcasm is really poignant-- indicates that one is j/king.

LOL is infant in the family of language, but it's precocious. It has already evolved. In the beginning, LOL was primarily used by the receiver of a message to mean that the content of what was sent made him or her to "laugh out loud."

For example, when a prospective suitor texted me, "UR cook dinner n suck cock?" I responded with "LOL" as a kind way of saying "The fuck I am, asshole." If it's a new flirtation, I might tack on a :) as well. That way, he knows that I have no intention of cooking him shit nor sucking on anything but that I am not offended by his sarcasm. If he was being serious, he'll learn right away that I may not be the girl for him. Better he learn that now than after dinner, right?

But then, LOL went from a message receiver's signal that he or she is enjoying the conversation to a message sender's tool to keep the conversation amiable.

This evolution affects both sides of the conversation. Now, the potential suitor would text, "UR cook me dinner, LOL" and I would respond with "No, you're going to buy me dinner, LOL." I don't think he's a misogynistic dick and he doesn't think I am a gold-digging bitch. Instead, we learn that we are both witty and playful.

If potential suitor texts, "UR cook dinner?" without the LOL :), I know that his question is serious and I can whip out my snobbery and respond with, "Sure, after you take me out to dinner, buy me a dozen roses, and then send me a thank you card the following day."

As long as the communication is clear, it's all good. If the potential suitor was joking and the lack of LOL was an oversight, well then, I've learned that he's careless. No thank-you. Still a win-win for me.


  1. I'm still vying for the sarcasm font. When's that going to become a thing?

  2. Sarcasm can be its own art form... (Oh damn -- should I put "LOL" now to show I'm smiling as I say this?)

    "LOL" definitely has its uses, but I generally abhor LOLspeak -- I'm totally with you on the proper punctuation and complete sentences, even when texting. (This seems like it should probably remain a "LOL"-free comment)

    Great post! (And definitely no "LOL" here -- totally serious and genuine compliment intended)

    Thanks for the laughs! LOL! (Oh what the Hell - this gets the "LOL". I did laugh out loud when reading the post -- Loved the snarky-yet-insightful tone and content)


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