A Brief But Necessary Guide To E-Laughter

According to a new study put out by Facebook, “haha” has replaced “LOL” in ubiquity and frequency of use online. The study was prompted by this piece in the New Yorker, which sought to parse out the ways we communicate virtual laughter. The findings are actually kind of horrifying. “Haha” constitutes nearly 50 percent of all laughs that occur on Facebook. “LOL,” clearly the superior method of conveying your bemusement or genuine amusement, is falling out of favor, relegated to the outer fringes of Facebook — you know, like your mom and her book club, who possibly think it actually means “lots of love.”

Listen, we know that things get confusing. But look at this graph. Do you want to live in a world where “hehe” is more prevalent in use than “lol”? Imagine that world. It’s bleak.


Luckily, we are here to help. E-laughter is tricky! As society hurtles towards a model where everyone communicates via a shiny, smooth sheet of glass hooked up to WiFi, we must learn to navigate these tricky new terrains with grace and decorum. This is the only guide you need.

hahahaha: If I were not in a setting that required absolute silence, I would titter once. Perhaps a snort. Because I am at work, interpret these “hahahahahas” as the best, most melodious version of my actual laugh.

Alternative Uses: As a space-filler; as a way to make sure that you’ve responded appropriately in a group text.


haha: I know you’re expecting a laugh out of that carefully crafted joke, but sadly, I didn’t think it was funny. However, I find it appropriate/necessary to fill the silence somehow, so this is what you get.

Alternative Uses: Breaking a silence; responding to a lame Tinderoni’s jokes while you’re watching TV.


ahaha: I am sort of weird or socially out of touch. I post lots of inspiring quotes, many of which are incorrectly attributed to Marilyn Monroe or Eckhart Tolle or MLK, on Facebook. Or, I meant to type an “h” at the beginning but didn’t press hard enough and this is a typo.

Alternative Uses: A subtle jab at the weird, socially out of touch person who uses “ahaha” sincerely.


lol/LOL: We are having a very serious conversation and I have said something that will probably offend you if not buffered with a hint of levity. Alternately, I’m making an attempt at self-deprecation and would like to blanket this statement that I’ve just said in something that strips the seriousness away, for just a moment.

Alternative Uses: I am your mother. I think this means “lots of love.”


ha: I really fucking hate you, but I feel compelled to respond. Also, maybe we were having a serious conversation and whatever it is that you just said made me stop seething to consider laughing but whatever, man.

Alternative Uses: If an exclamation point is appended to the end, please understand that we are most likely in a fight and that I’m using this as a way to prevent myself from screaming.


LMAO/ROFL: I’m texting with a teen. Or, I am engaging with my fellow commenters on the message board I visit to read consumer reviews of my vape.

Alternative Uses: None, sorry.


hehehe: The “a” key is broken on my keyboard. I have just told a relatively ribald joke. I am communicating laughter that is raunchy.

Alternative Uses: If you’re really bad at sexting, use this instead of the eggplant emoji.


HAHAHAHAHSKHDFHAHAHAHA, hahahahakdflkdjfka, HAAAAAAAHHHHH: I actually laughed out loud, probably too loud for the space I’m in. My mother/roommate/friend/significant other has looked up from making dinner or whatever and asked what I’m doing that’s so funny. Maybe I slapped my knee once or twice.

Alternative Uses: What you’ve just said to me is so preposterous that this raucous, nonsensical string of characters is the only way I can properly express my feelings.

Image via the insanely talented and wonderful AnimatedText Tumblr.