O n U N I Q U E N E S S | With a special audio reference from The Books (*I meant to record laughs, but apparently that makes people too self-aware to be authentically humored. I also don’t own a dictaphone (nor a tape player that would play the dictaphone’s tape)… and I can’t be bothered to use my iPhone instead…)
I distinctly remember my 30th birthday last winter for two reasons: 1) the sadly amazing creation of bird-shit-like frosting that my (very) dear friend used to decorate the prerequisite dessert announcing the end of an age. And 2) a simple sentence my friend Anne uttered late in the evening as I was giddily cutting up the rug we didn’t have:
"I’ve never heard that laugh of yours."
As I continued my drunken dance, I took a brief moment to step outside of myself and observe said laugh. It was a sublimely giddy sound. Something I recognized from the rare occasion when I am unabashedly childlike. A laugh full of joy, void of self-conscientiousness, and ever-so-slightly tinged with the dark cherry note of fear (i.e. would my flailing limbs propel me beyond my control as I careened across the wood floor, putting gesture before judgment…)
Now that I think about it, it was the best birthday gift a girl could have asked for! Because it was not just a laugh, but it was a laugh that shook me into my very being. A laugh that cried “Me!”
And it is with this thought in mind that I more awkwardly recall the first time I ever typed a laugh. It went something like this:
Now tell me that’s not funny…!
A decade after this first taste of anticlimactic typeset humor, I have only recently tried using "LOL" in an online conversation. Not only did it make me cringe, but it felt downright sacrilegious — a sentiment even more homogeneous than the 1-5 semantic rating system that ha, haha, hahaha, Hahahahaha, and HaHAHaHAHaaa employ.
The limitations of our online individuality seem the most transparent to me in this very gesture: the virtual laugh. Every unique trill, guffaw, harumpph, chuckle, chortle, snicker, snort, hoot, and giggle reduced to the most basic pairings of four — only four of twenty-six! — lucky letterforms.
At what point did an expression of pure delight become an acronym?