Wednesday, January 23, 2008

LOL! With Apologies to Lynne Truss

*inspired by a conversation about posts I've unintentionally stumbled across, not by reading any of the people on my sidebar.

My dear readers it is time for a little lesson regarding a certain informal usage. Admittedly, I am in no position to lecture anyone about the fine points of punctuation. I have a tendency to either sprinkle commas too liberally or hoard them as if they may soon be sold at $100 a barrel. In emails I tend to completely omit capitalization. I could defend myself by reminding you of the spill I took that caused bones to protrude from my left arm and mangled the limb severely enough that I had little use of the hand for months. I could tell you that bringing my poor, injured pinkie to the shift key was impossible and that would be true. However, my laziness with a shift key predates the accident by some years. If you have ever chatted with me in IM or even read any of the comments I may leave on your respective blogs you know I am quite possibly the world's sloppiest typist and the reigning Typo Queen, Her Royal Highness of Informality. Since Diana acquired a cell phone I have even learned to decipher and send messages such as "whr r u?" I am decidedly relaxed about the particulars in such situations.

The punctuation (though I will state my preference for the Oxford comma and my love for the interrobang even as I have an internal monologue over this usage of parenthesis), subject/verb agreement, capitalization, and even the concept of parallelism I will leave (let? leave? Oh my stars, I'm becoming angst-ridden now...and there go the parenthesis AND the ellipses!) to the E.B. Whites, the William Safires, and the Lynne Trusses of the world. I will set my sights on "LOL" as it is applied to formal writing (not to informal writing or to comments left on this post, mind you).

Now I must certainly admit I am known to use LOL as well as the myriad related expressions of amusement all the way up to and including ROFLMAO. There are certain standards I apply to their usage though and I am here to sort out any misunderstanding. On the occasions when I stumble across a blog entry composed by someone who seems to think LOL is some sort of punctuation mark I sit stony faced through the reading of their post, defiantly refusing to obey their command. When LOL and her kin are interspersed in a post as frequently as a Valley Girl includes 'like' or 'you know' during what passes for conversation I want to drive an ice pick right through the center of each O in LOL. I refrain since monitors don't work too well once you've done that a few dozen times over the course of a post.

An example: The kids did the cutest thing last weekend, lol. We got a new puppy and she is just so adorable, hehe. So we brought the puppy home and got her all set up in the kitchen because it's tile in there and I sure don't want her having accidents on the carpet, lol. So my littlest one who just got potty trained (thank God, LOL) decided since she didn't need her diapers anymore the puppy could use them until SHE was potty trained. LMAO!!!

Right now I want to kidnap the toddler and the puppy and hold them hostage until the author promises to banish LOL and its variants from her blog entries because she is dropping them more often than the puppy is likely to be depositing doo-doos on the floor. If I cannot find the humor in the anecdote without the neon sign of LOL then either I am bereft of a funny bone or it just isn't that amusing in the first place. It's also a bit immodest and distracting to be chortling through your own piece even if it is funny. Think of Pam Anderson in a swimsuit saying, "I have great tits, don't I?" You are now compelled to either answer truthfully and tell her the silicone in her chest at least distracts from the collagen in her lips and the air in her head or you are forced to stand there slack jawed at the enormous indiscretion.

Next allow us to consider the problem of contradictory tones.

An example:
Some cold-hearted, pedantic lady kidnapped my puppy and my toddler, lol.

Were this to actually take place would those in proximity actually hear mirthful giggles escape your mouth or would they more likely endure your wails of anguish? I suppose if the puppy were especially prolific in pooping and indiscriminate in placement of said excrement, and if the toddler were particularly prone to epic tantrums, and you had some rather sociopathic tendencies yourself it is entirely possible such a situation may give rise to a gleeful cackle but it seems an unlikely convergence of conditions. In the first example you've insulted my ability to identify humorous situations. Now you try to confuse me by suggesting tragedy is comedy. Or are you the one who is confused?

Finally, I'd like to address the question of degrees as we cover the full range of titters to guffaws expressed by everything from "lol" to "ROFPMSLMAO!!!!" (rolling on the floor pissing myself laughing my ass off for those requiring translation of this extreme form). Frankly, if you need the most extreme form I intend to lock your incontinent self into a room with both the puppy and the toddler until you all manage to gain some bladder control and broaden your respective vocabularies. "ROFPMSLMAO" just seems like a band of chimpanzees got at your keyboard and tried to type out the Great American Novel. The very bland "lol" seems hardly worth using. It's like the sort of response some country club wife from old money would give through a plastic smile when she is trying desperately to be civil to Pamela Anderson during small talk regarding other synthetic attributes. With regard to "lmao" it would seem we are again faced with a problem of mismatched moods. If you were to truly be laughing hard enough for your ass to become detached or at the very least to be expending enough calories so as to diminish its size, I should think this would be a situation in which capital letters are warranted. If you are going to employ hyperbole do so appropriately.

I hope I've been able to clear up this small matter. Now if you'll excuse me I have a derriere that needs to be laughed off in order to fit it into jeans that will not cause any of the aforementioned responses at first sight.


furiousBall said...

At a previous employer several years ago, an executive officer went onto our company's yahoo finance public forums which invariably have absolutely no actual investing advice and are 100% comprised of disgruntled former employees talking smack. This executive encountered the acronym ROFLMAO and inquired what that meant, someone then told him it meant "Rolling on the floor floating my asshole". The letters didn't match, nor did the phrase make any sense, but the executive somehow believed this. Fast forward a few weeks later in a company wide conference call. Someone cracks a joke and guess what phrase the executive decides to uncork?

Yes, yes he did. Laughed hard, I did.

DianeCA said...

I agree the acronyms have gone too far....and I'm tired of my 19 year old calling me a NEWB....shouldn't he be calling me and OLD or something!!

Thanks for the birthday wishes on Tors blogg!

Bsoholic said...

Haha! I know right!? WTF? JK - oh wait... crap! :P

I do tend to over use commas myself. I'll have to work on that.

Suldog said...

You know, I like you a lot. You seem to like me, too. Want to trade links? If you say "no". it's partially too late. Yours is already up at my place, LOLROTFLMAOPDQIMHOYMMVWTF.

Bunny said...


I used to get in knock-down drag-out fights in law school over comma usage in the law review lounge (yeah, we had our own lounge). I'd pull out my handy-dandy style manual, but some people refuse to bow before its magnificence. GDMFAs.

I want the power to edit other people's blogs for spelling and punctuation. I think Blogger should give me the superpassword (like a janitor or maid's pass key) so I can do that. Maybe you can get one too. We can be the Punctuation, Spelling, and Over/Inappropriate Use of Acronyms Police (pronounced PO-leese, of course).

barman said...

Oh Bunny, you do not want to do that. I am afraid I am terrible. My blog alone would be a full time job. Please rethink the superpassword thing.

By the way Lime, lol(+9.6)

On a scale of 1 to 10 of course. :)

Tommy said...

You are absolutely brilliant. I LOVE this post. God, I wish I could come up with ideas like this. Again? Brilliant! Love you.

(So tell me how you REALLY feel now. *snort*)

Mona said...

LOL! ( I can use that in a comment box I guess, although I promise myself I will use it in moderation after reading your absolutely brilliant post)

WTF! I have already said it all in the parenthesis!!


Maddy said...

Well I'm happy for the translations. I usually just skip over them because I don't know what half of them mean anyway!

Jeni said...

EGAD! I hate blogger and/or dial-up -not sure which. I just posted a lovely comment here, full of all kinds of complements to you and witticism of mine about my writing prowess, spelling ability, typing efforts and typos and overuse of exclamation points, hit publish, it was doing its thing and presto magic, instead of telling me my comment was accepted to your blog, all I got was this blank comment box and at the bottom of it, it said "Done." All that meaning blogger or dial-up or both maybe had "eaten" my beautiful comments for you blog.
So here's my second effort. Please no more or I'll be too tired out to read more blogs, do more comments then today if I have to type all of them in duplicate, ya know!

lime said...

furiousball, that is a hilarious anecdote! dontcha love when the execs are the biggest dopes in the building?

diane, my children actually say 'LOL' and "brb" out loud. it's astonishing. happy birthday :)

bs, you're fine love, take a deep breath

bunny, it's a tough job but someone's got to do it!

barman, well the scoring is a WHOLE new twist

tommy, my dear, i owe you thanks for inspiring this by directing me to a particularly insipid blog. love you, babe

mona, the informality is permitted, even encouraged in a comment box

maddy, glad to be of service

jeni, technology is only wonderful when it works. thanks for persevering

Cooper said...

Silicone??? In Pam's chest???? I am, well, frankly, shocked; I thought she was, you know, just lucky, given nature, being what it is, lol :>).

tsduff said...

Oh my goodness... no wonder my blog was only rated elementary! Auuughhhhh!

SignGurl said...

*raises hand* Guilty as charged!! When I use any of those acronyms, I want you to know that I thought it was amusing, not that you should, heh! Oops!

lime said...

cooper, believe it!

tsduff, well, i ran mine through that reading level thingy and only came up as elementary level myself. i'm in good company with you

signgurl, i've never really noticed an obnoxious use of it in your posts. you're good, girlie. not to worry.

G-Man said...

If anyone has ever chatted with me, they know that I NEVER use LOL or any of that text stuff..
I do however use, hahahaha..
And it's naughtier sinister cousin..Hehehehe
Have a nice day..

Cooper said...

I often wonder how you keep up with your legion...

~Tim said...

I almost never use lol or their ilk. {Doesn't it look like "ilk" should be an acronym for something too?)

On the other hand, I named my blog OTOH....

Phain said...

True story: I was reading this post yesterday in (stalled) traffic from my iphone. I'm sure the lady in the car next to me was wondering what I was up to as I was ROTSOMCATPMP (rolling on the seat of my car about to pee my pants) from laughing SO HARD!

And I use exclaimation points way too much when I write!

Bunny...if you get that janitors key, make me a copy will ya?

cathy said...

I want to join Bunny's club.
I didn't "LOL" at this post but I definitely smiled in appreciation on several occasions. I have the same problem with commas as you,feast or famine, they are the bane of my life.

Jim Jones said...

I LOL'ed at the post, and LUIWCAS (Laughed Until I Was Crying and Snorting) at the comments!

So having to explain what the acronyms are--SO lame. Why use them in the first place? It's like when Rachel Ray says "Use E-V-O-O...that's Extra Virgin Olive Oil..." HELLO, then why say "E-V-O-O? WTF?


Ameratis said...

Oh no! Now I am thinking of every time I could have possibly used such terms and am cringing now myself that it might have caused others to cringe. I will never look at LOL the same again.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I really did laugh so hard at this that I cried. But no way in hell I'm going to use a rant-able acronym for fear I will mis-use said acronym!

Jocelyn said...

Bless you.

Jon said...

This post has given me laughs and smiles that will last for days. I love your sense of humor! The remark about the icepick and the "O" in LOL was right on the money, and I feel the same way you do about stupid acronymns.

Best regards, Jon on 1-26-08 at

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