It’s been a tumultuous decade. At the height of the AIM era (AOL Instant Messenger—but of course you already know that, you crafty bastard), we were best friends. Something in one of the many conversations with my 13-year-old friends was funny? Lol. Stupid? Lol. Heartbreaking? Lol.
Then came along the hahas and hehes of the world. I experimented with different forms of internet laughter and you didn’t appreciate it. Not one bit. I remember one time around Christmas when my friend typed a poorly-framed fat Santa joke and I responded with hoho. You nearly lost it right then and there. The look on your face was a mixture of pain, shock, and hostility.
We decided to take some time apart, and quite frankly, that was best for both parties. I know I sound like a martyr, but you didn’t need to be around me at that point in my life. I was young. I was crude. I had a terribly unformed sense of humor. I was using you. Hell, I was overusing you. Then I realized I didn’t know what I wanted. It wasn’t fair.
High school started. I embarked on a fairly long-standing relationship with haha and things felt right. You opted for an even younger scene, and that was fine. I understood. You got older but naïve pre-teens stayed the same age. After a while I stopped thinking about you, and I assume you stopped thinking about me.
I went to college and decided to become an English major. I started learning a lot about language and how people mold it over time. I took creative writing classes and wrote a lot of stories with strong characters but no plot. I took lit history classes and did poorly on every pop quiz. Turns out the English we spoke 500 years ago is classified as Modern English—same as today. Not Middle English, not Old English. Oops.
Meanwhile, my relationship with haha was getting a little stale. We still hung out all the time, we still laughed together online. But something about it felt empty. Abbreviations were popping up relentlessly. F-bomb and sexting got added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. I found myself thinking about you again. Were you the advent of a revolution? Were you—nay, are you…Postmodern English?
I thought a lot about attention spans—my own included—and how they weren’t bound to get longer anytime soon. Unfortunately, lol, I realized they were going to get even shorter. Soon, we’d all deem it unreasonable to have to read full sentences like this one; sentences with semi-colons, commas—even long hyphens. Around this time I graduated from college with a degree I’d never be able to use.
Then something truly amazing happened. One day a friend texted me a great joke. Phenomenal joke it was, too, but I can’t remember it because I have a perpetually shrinking attention span. I responded with three simple letters: lol. There you were again—only this was a new and improved you.
I’d been noticing my peers using you frivolously on all sorts of social media: Facebooks, Twitters, hell even Pinterests. I found it incredibly obnoxious at first. Weren’t we all past this stage of our lives? Lol was for the idiotic youth, not legitimate adults. I decided to rebel against this inappropriate conduct—so I said lol. I said lol ironically. And thus, a meaningful relationship renewed.
I wanted to say this to you, lol: I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I was too young to understand you when we first started off. Part of me thinks you were too. I hope you don’t take my ironic use of you now with offense. On the contrary, I’ve rekindled our connection because I genuinely want you again. I hope you want me too. Soon, when the world gets too impatient to finish reading a letter as long as this one, you and I will be destined to embark on something great.
Always yours (lol),