“LOL” Is So Yesterday, According To Facebook Research

Photographed By Molly De Coudreaux.
The way you laugh online says more about you than just how hard you're virtually laughing. Whether you prefer to use "lol," "haha," "hehe," or an emoji may be indicative of your age and what part of the country you live in. In a recently published Facebook Research blog post, Facebook employees Udi Weinsberg, Lada Adamic, and Mike Develin revealed the results of a study on "lol" use on the social network. Conducted the last week of May, the study showed that 15% of Facebook posts included laughter in some form, and "haha" was the most popular, at 51.4%. Meanwhile, 33.7% of laughter-containing posts used emoji, and 13.1% had "hehe." Only 1.9% used "lol." Sadface. As the graphics below show, the popularity of each virtual form of laughter varies depending on what part of the country you're in. The darker the green, the more popular the term. Emoji laughter is most popular in the eastern half of the U.S., while west coasters and southwesterners cling to their "hehe"s and "lol"s.
Image courtesy Facebook.
As for how men and women express online laughter differently, women tend to use emoji and "lol" more often, while men more often go with "haha" and "hehe" (the latter of which was surprising to me, since I always thought "hehe" as more of a high-pitched giggle. Now I picture a bearded baritone typing "hehe" to his Tinder matches). In the researchers' most depressing bit of news (for those of us who grew up in the "lol"-loving AOL Instant Messenger era), "lol" usage skews toward older folks, while youngsters are more likely to engage in emoji-based laughter. However, the median age for all four types of laughs lies in the mid-to-late 20s, so the difference isn't that huge. At any rate, if you're hoping to look digitally hip to new friends and admirers, you may want to ditch the old laughing-out-loud acronym. Everyone else kind of already has.

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