LOL (or: i’m not really, but when i am, i don’t!)

Somebody made a comment recently that really made my day – “Your blog post literally made me laugh out loud!” Maybe you can’t quite relate to why that statement might have such an impact – after all, few days go by without every one of us saying something witty or amusing that, at the very least, causes another to laugh – however, the written medium is very different, and far more contrived, than those epithets that may trip off our tongues at an opportune moment in conversation. In our everyday lives, situations occur that lend themselves naturally to witticisms, even for those of us for whom stand-up comedy is not something we aspire to. Then there are those ambiguities and double-entrendres that sneak into our daily interactions – often without invitation – causing hilarity and ribald ripostes.

Even those of us with no particular leaning towards the humorous are able to juggle the complexities of language, conversation and circumstance to both appreciate and promulgate accidental, and intended, humour – it comes naturally to us and is a simple consequence of interacting with other people; for the writer, it’s a much harder task. To write humorously, in a way that is capable of producing a spontaneous and instant reaction – particularly laughing out loud, is a difficult task indeed. Try too hard and you end up with something contrived and pedestrian; pitch it wrongly and you become offensive and arrogant; try to be clever, and nobody thinks it’s funny – for some it comes naturally, whilst for the majority of us, it will always be hard work and, if we’re not careful, hard work for the reader too!

It’s a rare thing for me to set out to write something humorous for precisely those reasons, however put me amongst a bunch of like-minded people in sl – particularly those who are quick-witted and funny themselves, and i seem to have little trouble when it comes to exercising my funny bones in those situations – but, here we encounter the writer’s problem in reverse… exactly how do you express mirth whilst inworld, without resorting to that staple of internet chat acronymic anachronisms… the dreaded “LOL”?

The sad fact of the matter is that there really doesn’t seem to be an adequate alternative – “Hahaha” and “heehee” both have their place but are somewhat lacklustre and can seem to me to be rather sarcastic in tone, no matter in what context they appear. Then there are all those other appalling acronyms – which i just can’t persuade myself to ever use under any circumstances: To me it’s unlikely that i’d ever find myself actually Rolling Around The Floor And Riotously Tittering Stupidly, let alone abbreviate it to RATFARTS, or whatever the terminology happens to be – usually something about falling off asses, or similar, i believe.

A few of my friends do have some rather excellent laughter gestures, of which i’m ridiculously jealous – particularly, the high-pitched giggle and the Sid James cackle! However, i’m sorry to say, that often the best that i can manage is the ubiquitous LOL (Lack of Language?).

Here’s the thing though – i rarely, if ever use it when i really am laughing out loud. That’s not to say i don’t laugh when i’m inworld – i do, frequently, often out loud, occasionally riotously and there have been occasions where i’ve been rendered utterly helpless by laughter, barely able to see the screen through the tears! On one famous occasion, i even had to physically leave the room until i was in a fit state to continue, such were the extremes of mirth into which i’d been thrust. Yet, on almost every occasion that i do actually laugh out loud at the antics in sl, it’s a rare thing indeed that it’s echoed in the text that i type on the screen.

It’s a conundrum – inworld, if i’m laughing, i’m probably not – although that’s not to say i’m faking it: it probably is genuinely amusing me, but caught up in the strange not-quite-somewhere-ness that is sl, the rational, academic appreciation of an humorous, virtual situation or one-liner for some reason doesn’t make it through the pixel-filter into rl and – although i may virtually profess my amusement – in rl, i’m strangely silent. On the other hand, i may be so caught up with uproarious laughter in the real world that i’m quite incapable of rendering my amusement inworld with the same spontaneity and mirth… and, at least in virtual reality, the moment passes without comment.

It’s a funny old world!

s. x

Let’s just laugh
We can never do anything about anything, anyway
Whatever will be, I guess we’ll see
So let’s just laugh
The Lemonheads – Let’s Just Laugh

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