It seems like like everything else nowadays, there is enough assumed texting etiquette to write a New York Times style guide about it. When you admit that, does it sound ridiculous? Yes. But is it totally true? Obvious-effing-ly. So, like everything else, let’s break this baby down.
Texting is generally a self-conscious habit in many ways. It is a multi-faceted battle of the many sides of you–the side that wants to use your impeccable grammar skills and your vocabulary loaded like an M16 with bullets of memorized SAT words; the side of you that recognizes your opportunity to be casual, funny, and quirky arises when you are in the shadow of the iPhone screen. Because IRL (in real life, a crucial acronym), I am the nerdiest of spellers and those who speak, read, and write English, I used to be super anal over text message. Then one day I had an epiphany of sorts in which I realized that text was text and I was wasting precious seconds struggling to spell out “sounds like a plan” with my swollen fingers, which obviously swell whenever I eat foods too concentrated in salt. Overnight, I converted from the proper texter to the all-out ratchet texter.
Never will you see a text I compose that includes “sounds like a plan” again–SLAP is the way mothafuckas. I recycled the fourth grade jargon I was once so comfortable using on AIM. Those were the days when my profile said “Our dreams, and they are made out of real things / Like a, shoebox of photographs / With sepia-toned loving” because “Better Together” was the only Jack Johnson song I knew. I also listed the initials of my 30 close and personal friends, all of whom I was clearly very close and personal with because I had 30 of them. Right.
Now, every abbrev that u cld poss think of is used on a daily basis by moi. It’s dumb to waste time on text message when all I’m trying to figure out is which movie my best friends and I want to attend in our pajamas on any given Saturday night. Def not worth the letters.
Speaking of abbreviations, I wanted to discuss two of my faves: “haha” and “lol.” First things first–snaps to “lol” for making the comeback of the century. For real. When we were younger, it was socially acceptable to write “lol,” yet there was something about it that I didn’t find cool–I have a faint recollection of interpreting it as something boys would say, therefore making it inherently more unintelligent on the sixth grade level. I always, always, always was more of a haha-er. But in general, “lol” was the norm. After a while, however, it’s reign began to fade and everyone was just saying “haha.” “Haha” became “hahaha” and “lol” was evicted like an unemployed post grad–see ya, kiddo. Now, I use “lol” and “lolz” (OF COURSE) on the daily.
Not only is the evolution of the words we use to express laugher fascinating, but the fact that we even use words to express laughter at all is what kicks it for me. I was once told by a very well-travelled man that in Russia, no one smiles for photos. Why? Because they don’t see why anyone would fake a smile just to be recorded in a still frame if they were not smiling to begin with. Why fake happiness?
This situation, which I could write an entire post on alone, reminds me so much of the way we express laughter through the digital wall. Most of the time you write “lol,” “haha,” or whatever your preference of onomatopoeia is, you aren’t actually laughing. So why do you write it? To let the person on the other end know that you are amused, perhaps. Maybe it’s because you felt that inkling of a giggle inside you, but you just didn’t need to let it out. When I am texting with someone, and either of us finds what the other is saying to be legitimately funny, I find that we’ll always say “I’m actually laughing.”
Once, I coined the term “legit lol” for when I laughed out loud. Shouldn’t “haha” be enough? Also, whose laugh actually sounds like “haha”? And why do we feel the need to let someone know that you thought something was funny when 1) in reality, you weren’t even laughing, and 2) IRL, we don’t say “that was funny” to someone during conversation when we thought that something was funny, yet it did not make us laugh?
All throughout elementary school, I was head-over-heels in love with one guy. We would spent hours upon hours talking on AIM every night. As the hopeless romantic that I am and always have been, I would overanalyze every little word that we exchanged to either mean something fabulous or to be a sign. For example, when he told me that his favorite song was “Dirty Little Secret” by The All-American Rejects, I thought he only said that to covertly let me know that his love for me was, well, a dirty little secret. So, whenever we were ending our late-night 9pm conversation, I would always throw an “lol” in there. He probably assumed it was a mistake, that I probably meant to write it in another chat, but it wasn’t. Why? I used it to mean “lots of love.” Sneaky, wasn’t I?