Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Opinion

Haha! I know that you're just lazy

Last week I sent a text message to a friend. A Hollywood business meeting I had high hopes for had been suddenly "postponed."

"Everybody canceled except me," I texted.

She texted back, "Haha."

What's so funny about it, I wondered? Where's the haha in my disappointment? My text was more sad than funny; her text steamed me. Dismissed twice.

"Haha" and its partner, "LOL," are texting's go-to replies, a vaguely complimentary, vaguely condescending way to acknowledge a text has been received.

I once wrote about the overuse of the superlative "amazing," and, predictably, almost everyone I knew who read the piece told me it was an "amazing" article. Haha. Good one. LOL.

But the use of amazing is paltry compared with haha and LOL. OMG, I bet there are serious stats somewhere. Maybe the NSA could confirm it: I'd guess haha and LOL are approaching 1 billion "sends" a day, about three hahas and three LOLs for every American.

My 20-year-old friend Ida is the Barry Bonds of haha. I could break my femur and that's what I'd get back from her. And fast. In the Texting Hall of Fame, Ida will be first ballot.

I can pretty much predict when I'll get the response.

The single ha is employed for something that approaches humor, but more likely is a statement bordering on the ludicrous. For example, I text you, "Lets go 2 Aleppo, Syria"; you reply, "Ha."

Less ludicrous, more humor and haha comes back. LOLs require being a bit funnier, but not much.

One time a text I sent got a hahahahaha. Two hahas, one ha. Not too shabby for a gang reporter. Someone told me a cousin of a friend of theirs once got a hahahahahahahahaha (nine), but this guy exaggerates, so maybe he only got a hahahahahahaha (seven) - which is nothing to laugh at.

It might have taken Richard Pryor in his prime to get hahahahahahahahaha (nine) or even a hahahahahahahaha (eight).

Still, even if Pryor got a string of hahas, it wouldn't be as good as LOLLOLLOLLOLLOL (five). Now, that's very funny. That's someone approaching hysteria. That's someone bent over, hands on their thighs, panting heavily just to recuperate from the laughter that may have even brought them to tears.

And though technically five LOLs have about the same number of characters as "that's very funny," they can be typed 2.4 seconds quicker. I'm pretty sure.

And therein lounges the lure of these two text messages: Speed. Ease of thumb typing.

And then, simple laziness or maybe social desperation: The way you politely laugh at a story someone tells at a party, even though it isn't funny, you can now haha by mobile device.

Even if a text is funny, no one is really laughing. Walk down any street and people have their heads down, staring at their phones, texting or looking at texts. None of them is laughing out loud. They aren't even smiling. They might be typing haha or LOL, but they are not living the text, not texting the truth.

If they were, you would be able to stick your head out of any office building in America and hear uncontrolled laughter. (I don't know about other countries. I mean, do Russians haha? I bet Russian teenagers do. "Crimea back in da house!" "Haha.")

I'm not saying you shouldn't haha or LOL, but maybe change it up every now and then. Maybe frame a real response.

And yeah, I'll get a lot of texts about this. You know what they'll say.

Michael Krikorian is a former Los Angeles Times staff writer and the author of a crime novel, Southside.

Comments
Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Floridaís juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scottís administration was defensive and obtuse. So itís welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17