One of my favorite comic strips, “Pearls Before Swine” recently seemed to imply that the use of “LOL” for “laughing out loud”, is annoyingly trite. And, further, I have often happened across blogs and editorials by otherwise sane people that are highly disdainful of the use of the related so-called emoticons such as grin (in brackets), and the wink and smile made from the semicolon and colon and the closed parenthesis.
As much as I love, and identify with, the curmudgeonous Rat, who bashes with a stick his friend “Goat” for responding with an LOL to a joke that the Rat had emailed him, I cannot agree with my good friend the Rat on this. Of course, it “Pearls” is a comic, and a great one (the only one I regularly read these days), so one might say, “come on Tom, it is just a funny strip”. Yes, but I cannot help but think that many people are, like the Rat, inlined to dislike the use of such emoticons, and fail to see their usefulness.
I feel that emails necessarily lack the body or voice language that live person to person contacts have, and hence it is very easy for an email respondent to flame back at the sender, having mistaken humor or gentle teasing for something much more viscous and even hateful. I have the lumps to prove it. But I now know that a well placed wink can help pacify many a potential stick wielder. And as much as I would mostly like to discourage people from sending me every joke and funny video they find on the internet, I feel that usually an LOL properly acknowledges the ones that are at least a little bit funny. Admitted, that while I tend to be easily amused, and do “laugh out loud” quite often, it is usually not something I have actually done in response to the received email.
So, speaking for myself, I intend to continue using the wink, the LOL, etc. I will just lay low whenever the Rat come around with his big stick.