How Do You Laugh Online?

Only the Olds Say LOL

Do you haha, hehe, lol or ?? The way you choose to laugh online tells people something about you, mostly your age, but maybe also where you live. Sort of like soda vs. Coke vs. pop.

Prompted by an article in The New Yorker, Facebook had a look at their mounds of data to analyze how people laugh online. Survey says: LOL might just call you out as “old” if a media age of 25 can be considered “old.”


And here are a few more fun takeaways:

  • Women and Chicago dwellers are more likely to use emoji
  • LOL has an edge in Phoenix over usage of the term in other major cities, probably in part due to the retiree population
  • All incarnations of “haha” are the most popular right now
  • Haha & Hehe reign supreme on the West Coast, the Midwest loves emojis, and the South is behind the times still using LOL
i used to be with it - grampa simpson

Reaching Younger People Online

Why am I bringing this to your attention? If you are managing a brand’s presence online, and you are trying to reach younger demographics, it might be important for you to understand how to avoid appearing out-of-touch.

I used to be with it, but then they changed what *it* was. Now what I’m with isn’t *it*, and what’s *it* seems weird and scary to me. It’ll happen to you… – Middle-aged Grampa Simpson

Trying to reach younger folks doesn’t necessarily mean you should dive head first into the world of emojis. People can sense when you’re insincere. But shifting from LOL to the more popular and widely used HAHA might keep you from standing out in a bad way.

Or if you want to talk to groups outside of your experience and age group, this will help you understand that there is research to be done to make that happen without having it backfire on you.

Further Reading

Ready to go beyond how you laugh online? Here are a few articles that can help you be “with it” even if you forgot what “it” is:

Have you or your brand or business ever been called out online for misusing abbreviations, emoji or other language? How’d that go?


2 responses to “How Do You Laugh Online?”

  1. This one was a bit of a haha for me as hubby asked how my “work” was going as your featured image loaded. I am a lol person, but maybe that is showing the age of 29, does that make me old or experienced, I mean really do you really want a 12 year old business mentor? :) In all seriousness though, thanks for the update, I didn’t know.

    1. Thanks for weighing in, Joy! I’m in my late 40s and use all of them, although I’m more of a lulz person than lol. The thing that still confounds me is Snapchat. I understand the point of it, but the app itself hurts my brain. Hopefully I don’t get a client that wants to use it any time soon. :-)

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