With emoji looking like it is becoming an established online sign language, many people could be forgiven for thinking that more traditional ways of expressing themselves may have had their day.
Now, with Prime Minister David Cameron even knowing what “LOL” means, the serious matter of how to express e-laughter looks like it might have been settled once and for all.
However, new research conducted in response to a recent article in the New Yorker suggests an old favourite could still end up having the last laugh.
A new study carried out by Facebook in the US, The Not-So-Universal Language of Laughter, found that 51 per cent of users expressed laughter by writing “haha.”
The study collated information from users and ranked it by gender, age and location and found that “haha” (or longer variations such as “hahaha”) beat emoji firmly into second place. The once popular “LOL” (laugh out loud) seems to have fallen out of fashion, making up only 1.9 per cent of e-laughter usage on the social network.
Sarah Larson, the writer of the New Yorker piece, noted that men prefer to use “hehe” and thought that this might have something to do with gender bias for the pronoun he and was also “foisted upon us by youth.”
The results of Facebook’s survey actually found that “hehe” and “lol” are popular with older users of the social network, whilst emoji use was more popular with younger age brackets.
Technology itself might also be playing a part in the way we express laughter online.
Larson wrote in her original article: “My phone has a haha autocorrect that turns a reasonably good laugh into a deranged mess – an incoherent hahhhahaahahhh.”
The study by Facebook found that the average number of letters making up e-laughter is four (as in “haha” and “hehe”), although six letters variations are also popular with users.
Other expressions featured in the results were “lol”, “lolz” and “loll”, whilst “rofl” and it’s more risqué cousins “lmao” and “pmsl” were absent.