‘LOL’ has just been added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Unless you are an internet n00b (see what I did there?) of the highest order, you’ll know that it stands for ‘Laugh Out Loud’. It’s used online and in texts as a shorthand for ‘That was funny!’
Oddly enough, though, we rarely are actually laughing out loud when we post it. More commonly, we simply want to indicate that we are mildly amused by what we have read. There is no acronym to indicate mild amusement, nothing for a chuckle or a snigger. The only other textspeak shorthands to indicate that we have found something funny mean we have found something really funny, such as ‘LMAO’ (Laughing My Ass Off).
For me, ‘LOL’ is all well and good in informal written communication, such as a text or an email to a friend, when it’s difficult to show appreciation for a joke in any other way. Using it in speech is a step too far. Sure, it’s usually used in an ironic way, but I bet it’s not long before people start using it for real. If something is really funny, people will still laugh, because it’s a biological response, but if it’s only a bit funny, they might actually start saying ‘LOL’.
It doesn’t bear thinking about.