Concluding our December series of the most viewed guest author posts of 2013, we can now reveal--drum roll, please--that the most popular was Don Rearden's unforgettable case for using language with true meaning.
A Writer's Treatise on the Dumbest Three Letter Combination since Homer Simpson's "D'oh!"
I laugh. I love to laugh. I love to laugh out loud. I love to laugh while rolling on the floor, apparently burning enough calories to make my ass smaller. All this loud laughing aside, I have to say a few words about the insidious infiltration of a laughable substitution of letters for words used to express both emotion and sound in our language.
I'm talking about the rampant and ridiculous use of the letter combination "LOL." I assume the use of these three letters started originally as a typo generated by auto-correct, perhaps from someone typing "Lollipop" in response to a dumb joke, which I must also assume meant the joke sucked and/or was told by a sucker. From that innocent computer generated gaff we face not just the utter degradation of our language, but more importantly our humanity.
Let me explain.
First, those three letters represent lies each time they are typed together. Sure they are innocent lies, but they are blatant lies nonetheless. You might as well let those three letters represent Lying Over Laughs. Let's be honest --- if you are even capable of honesty any more --- you didn't actually laugh to yourself silently, let alone loud enough that anyone heard you chuckle. Every time you write those three letters and don't actually laugh loudly and clearly you are lying, and thus some of your humanity has been lost.
After lying there is the issue of what is funny and actually worthy of laughter verses telling someone the words they wrote we're cute, clever, cunning, or just plain crappy.
On one level you are lying about your actual response and on the other you are denying yourself a real emotional response. And if you're a writer, you're masking your actual emotions and neglecting your actual creative talent! You might as well let those three letters stand for Lover Of Laziness because you can no longer muster an actual emotion response because you are really just too lazy to do so, but perhaps this is because you lost your energy and creativity when your humanity exited stage left when the lies first began?
Finally, those three letters might as well symbolize a loss of humanity on a larger, more global scale, as other languages and cultures adopt LOL as an international unit of idiotic communication, which is the equivalent of adopting McDonald's Golden Arches as a worldwide symbol for sustenance. Oh, right, we've already done that. My point here is that as other people around the world recognize LOL as a significant enough acronym to adopt it wholeheartedly when it has no actual meaning, we all become liars, and we force the whole of our species to respond with and attempt to elicit contrived emotional responses.
So while I may think something you wrote is funny, or if I just witnessed some act of hilarity, or maybe I'm cracking myself up with my razor clam wit, I might just laugh until I mess my pants, or I could laugh so hard I rupture my spleen, or I may be reduced to loud obnoxious laughing, but I swear to you that so long as I live you will never ever catch me writing those three letters in response to anything. Ever.
Don Rearden grew up on the tundra of southwestern Alaska. He is board president of 49 Writers, a produced screenwriter, and award-winning author. He teaches writing as an Associate Professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The Raven’s Gift is available from Penguin in trade paperback, Kindle, and iBook. More info at www.donrearden.com, ravensgift.blogspot.com, and twitter.com/donrearden.