The term "LOL" originated in the mid-1980's as an acronym for "laughing out loud." I thought it was invented in 2002, but that's beside the point. Anyway, "LOL" was originally used in text form for chat rooms, instant messenger (shout out to AIM and Smiley25, my old username), SMS texting, etc. One would type "LOL" when the person who he/she was chatting with sent such a funny message that he/she actually laughed out loud upon receiving said message. You're probably thinking, "Well, obviously." However, over the past few years, the usage of "LOL" has become much less obvious.
As an avid texter, I find myself constantly typing "Lol." I send it to my friends, I send it to my family, and, once, I almost sent it to a college professor (whoops). I use it on Facebook, I use it on Instagram, and I even use it on Twitter.
In the midst of using all of these social media platforms, I realized that I use "LOL" in situations when I'm not actually laughing out loud. Most of the time, I'm not even laughing at all. This made me ask myself, "Why do we blatantly misuse a term?" I mean, we know that "LOL" is supposed to mean "laughing out loud," right?
I came to the conclusion that we're not exactly "misusing" the term. We use "LOL" in situations when we're not actually laughing out loud because "LOL" has evolved in its meaning. No longer does it only mean "laughing out loud."
To alleviate the confusion I know that you have, I've drafted a simple guide to navigating the term "LOL" and its many meanings. Pay attention, my friends.
1. The Actual "LOL"
This is the original. Use this when you’re actually laughing.
2. The Awkward Space Filler "LOL"
This little guy is should be used when you either have nothing to say or if you feel uncomfortable.
3. The Passive Aggressive "LOL"
Save this bad boy for the times when you're pissed and you want the other person to know that you're pissed without starting a fight. It's genius.
4. The "That Wasn't Really That Funny" "LOL"
This "LOL" is used to make fun of whoever you're talking to. This one says, "Wow, that really wasn't that funny. Good try, though. I laughed at your effort."
5. The "Lots Of Love" "LOL"
Older people (40+) who aren't familiar with the actual meaning of "lol" often believe that it stands for "lots of love." This simple misunderstanding definitely leads to lots of laughs (and cringes).
How crazy is it that we live in a world where the combination of three small letters can have significantly different implications? That's life, I guess. LOL.