LOL Inflation Is Real: Here's What Your E-Feedback Really Means

You just responded with "Ha"? I guess we're broken up now.

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The other day, I was laying down some of my typical, mind-blowing humor to one Corban Goble. Here’s how our GChat exchange about nepotism in broadcasting and Hollywood went:

Colin: yeah i’d like to think i would just do something totally different BUT if my dad were tom hanks and im colin hanks im like LETS DO THIS
Corban: lol yeah totally

I wondered: Did Corban actually laugh out loud at my hilarious comment? Knowing Corban, probably, even though it wasn’t my best work. Still, even my weakest IMs should be preserved in the Library of Congress. Then, I took it up a notch with this tweet:

While we can’t be sure whether or not someone is actually laughing at our keyboard strokes or texts without asking them — which, c’mon — we can design a suppositional taxonomy. It’s been done before, but has it been done well? Haha. (See below for definition.)


An all-cap LOL is a decent sign of humor received. Holding down the shift key requires effort only reserved for actual amusement. Is the person on the other end of the exchange really laughing, though? Probably not.


Not all-capped = muted sarcasm.


At its best, “Alright, let’s move on.” At its worst, “I hate you and never want to listen to your ramblings anymore.” “Ha” with a capital “H” might be a slightly better sign than just “ha” in IMs, but doesn’t mean much in the autocapping world of texts. An added exclamation point is a win, too. These unbreakable, ingenious rules go for just about everything, here.


Your joke sucked. We can still be friends, but your joke sucked.


Now, you’re getting somewhere. You can bet on a real chuckle, here.


Getting warmer.

Bwahahaha or Mwahahaha

Got ‘em! As the “Bwa” and “Mwa” intros declare, this shit is fully lit now. You’ve made another human being laugh by typing something. Go immediately out to the club and get bottle service. It doesn’t get much better than this.


An all-capper, this one signals a short burst of enthusiasm — often because you’ve written something witty.


This HAHA is a bogus iteration. You’re weird if you do this.


But not as weird as if you do this. You think something’s funny, but you’ve gone overboard. Nothing is this sort of funny. Have fun killing a squirrel in your backyard for no reason later.


You cray. And I can’t believe I’m chatting with Channing Tatum.


“Eat shit and die.”


Real cute. This means the person might be laughing but holding their hand in front of their face while doing so.

Tee hee

Fake laughing, holding hand in front of face, wearing schoolgirl or sailor outfit with pigtails.


Typing out a laugh that is pretty gross to hear IRL is a ridiculous move. Also, when people are laughing so hard that they’re snorting, they usually don’t have command of their extremities. I’m calling bullshit on the ability to snort whilst typing.

Lmao, Lmfao, Rofl, et al.

You’re a teenager. I shouldn’t be testing out my material on you. Also, if you’re a teenager laughing — or ROLLING ON THE FLOOR — because of something I said, your life is going to be full of pain and regret.

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