Online communication has evolved so that people have more ways of laughing online than they do in real life communication. From LOL, to haha, to emoji characters, to animated gifs, the internet has something for everyone and you may be surprised what your preferred way of laughing reveals about you.
A new study conducted by Facebook researchers has stressed just how diverse and quickly shifting online laughter really is, and shined a light on the subtle nuances between online laughs. It turns out that your preferred “e-laugh” depends on your age, gender and geographic location.
The research team looked at Facebook posts and comments collected over the course of a week and found that 15 percent (15%) of active users use some form of online laughter to express their amusement.
Out of all of them, 51 percent (51%) of active users prefer to use the term “haha”, 33 percent (33%) of active users prefer to use emoji characters, 13 percent (13%) of active users prefer to use the term “hehe”, and only 1.9 percent (1.9%) of modern day active users prefer to use the term “LOL”.
LOL, which stands for “laugh out loud”, was once the leading term that people used to express amusement in online communication or when sending messages on mobile phones. Currently it is only being used by Facebook’s oldest laughing demographic – users with an average age of 28.
Emoji characters are generally used by Facebook’s youngest laughing demographic – youngsters in their teens and early twenties
The terms “haha” and “hehe” are used by everyone between the ages of 13 and 70, with “hehe” usually being used to express mischievous thoughts or behaviors.
When it comes down to gender, most women prefer to use emoji characters and the almost dead “LOL”, while most men prefer to use the terms “haha” and “hehe”. However some women are also fond of “haha”.
Geographically speaking, people living in the Midwest prefer to use emoji characters while people from the West Coast prefer to use “haha” and “hehe” to express amusement. “LOL” is still somewhat popular in Southern states, especially in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Facebook researchers also found subtle nuances between how many “ha” and “he” building blocks a user uses. “Haha” and “hahaha” proved to be a lot more popular than a simple “ha” or a long “hahahaha”. And users who typically use “hehe” have shown the exact same pattern.
Sarah Larson pointed out an interesting difference between “hahaha” and “hehehe” in an article written for The New Yorker. She said that online laughs using “ha” building blocks are good for constructing more elaborate hilarity.
Larson explained that the use of a single “ha” is a way of respectfully acknowledging that someone made a joke, “haha” is used to communicate “that you’re genuinely amused”, “hahaha” is used to communicate “that you’re really amused”, and more than three (3) “ha” building blocks are used to communicate that the joy has taken flight.
It’s worth mentioning that those not in sync with online trends and nuances may find certain types of “e-laughter” confusing.
Image Source: sites.psu.edu