I play my fair share of online games–these days it’s World of Warcraft–and so I interact casually with a large number of humans via online chat.
These aren’t people I know–they’re just other players in the game with whom I might be temporarily allied. Conversations amount to “sap that dude” and “haha, we’re pwning!” Similarly, I talk with people on Skype (I’ve got a whole other rant on the puzzling, emergant world of IM ettiquette).
In both cases, I’ve noticed a trend in the use of the phrase ‘LOL’ and its graphical cousin, the emoticon. People seem to think they can ‘say’ anything they want, as long as it’s followed by ‘LOL’, as in:
[Sherah – Aerie Peak] OMG, ur such a retarded noob. Your parents are blind dalmatians.
[Sherah – Aerie Peak] LOL.
That’s pretty G-rated, but you get the idea. It’s like the ‘LOL’ or emoticon unquestionably mitigates whatever preceded it. This irks me for two reasons:
- It apparently gives people a blank cheque to say whatever they like.
- People won’t do the work of using actual words to convey the sarcasm, irony or tonal quality they’re trying to achieve. ‘LOL’ seems like a crutch for lousy and lazy writers.
I know I sound like a aged curmudgeon (kids these days!) but text-based chat is only going to become a more ubiquitous medium in the next couple of decades. We ought to think about the emerging conventions.
That said, I’m pretty sure that ‘LOL’ is fully entrenched in the world of online chat. Of course, YMMV.