The US-wide study, entitled The Not-So-Universal Language of Laughter, and conducted in response to a New Yorker article on the subject of “e-laughter”, has collated data on the way de-identified users express mirth. The results are broken down by age, gender and location.
The most common form of e-laughter was found to be haha (or longer variants eg hahaha), followed by emoji and “hehe”. LOL (laugh out loud) accounted for just 1.9% of usage.
Younger users and women are more likely to use an emoji when tickled; men prefer to use hehe (the writer of the New Yorker piece, Sarah Larson, speculates that this might be down to the fact it consists of the pronoun he).
However, while Larson in her piece postulates that hehe is a thing “foisted upon us by youth”, Facebook’s data showed this not to be the case. While the average age of emoji users is slightly lower than fans of haha, users who chose hehe and lol tended to be older.
And what about those of us who like to express full-on laughs with length? Hahahhaha, for instance. Or all-caps laughs? HAHAHAHA. Then there’s laughter expressed as though one fell asleep on a keyboard.
As Larson writes in her piece: “My phone has a haha autocorrect that turns a reasonably good laugh into a deranged mess – an incoherent hahhhahaahahhh”.
Facebook found the average number of letters making up e-laughter is four (haha, or hehe), but six letters are also common. One user in the study, however, had written a 600-letter long hahahahahahahaha …
While “lol”, “lolz” and “loll” are all present in the study, there is no sign of “rofl” (rolling on the floor laughing), “lmao”, (laughing my arse off) or “pmsl” (pissing myself laughing).
As well as gender and age, Facebook also found e-laughter expressions varied according to location. Chicagoans are big fans of emoji, while Seattle is all about haha.
Of course, it’s increasingly common to express amusement with the perfect reaction gif. And a little tip: certain variations of hahaha on Google’s g-chat will result in pop-up animations, including a dancing fox.
If that doesn’t put a smile on your face, I don’t know what will.