The Science of Online Laughter

This will be the first in a sure-to-be-long-running series designed to acclimate you, the reader, with the magic and wonder of the Internetz. The topics will be wide-ranging and random in nature–everything from discussions of the best websites to investigating the potentially harmful effects of a misplaced semi-colon while coding PHP.

First we take a look at the underlying meaning of what initially appears to be nothing more than a simple laugh during online conversation. You’re talking to a friend over instant messenger or Facebook and they say something moderately amusing. How does one respond? With a simple “ha ha?” Don’t be naive, friends; the way you respond can speak volumes. Friendships and marriages have been destroyed over misinterpreted online diction. Don’t make that same mistake.

ha – An acknowledgement of a comment having not fallen under the category of “unfunny.” In a sense, you’re saying, “okay, you didn’t shit the bed.” Plenty of room for improvement.

hehe – a reserved, slightly patronizing laugh to acknowledge that you attempted to say something funny and didn’t make a spectacular failure of yourself.

haha – Used most often in casual online conversation; a way of seguing to the next thought after a quick acknowledgement of your pithy quips.

hahah – You’ve exceeded in raising your humor level to the point I made the extra, not-insignificant effort to type an extra ‘h.’

hahahahahahhha – Veritable belly laughs fill the virtual air, albeit while exercising the necessary self-control to refrain from mashing the keyboard in uncontrollable fits of joy.

aaahhahahhaha – Perhaps the rarest of them all, the laughter that starts with an extended “aahhhhh” before the fit of giggling, signifying to one and all that you’ve made a funny and deserve applause.

lol – The most overused of them all, “lol” should be reserved for the truly rare moments in which someone tells you about chimps throwing their own feces while riding a motorcycle, or cats batting something with their paws. Interestingly enough, it should be noted, “lol” does not always indicate an audible output of laughter. It is funny enough to make you laugh, but not quite enough to make it impossible to suppress said laughter in the workplace.

kajd;lasdf;aldsjkga;oias;dgihas;dg – So hilarious you can’t control yourself long enough to successfully type a specific sequence of letters on your keyboard because you are–literally–laughing out loud. This is reserved for the truly great moments of comedy, like when a group of friends trade rhyming verses in a song/poem to pay tribute to another friend that has a slightly off-putting affinity for taco’s. (Said lyrics are kept under Interweb password protection; sorry.)

I hope you’ve learned something from part 348 of my 618-part series on teh Interweb (the previous 347 parts all involve animated cat gifs and were excised to improve website performance). Stay tuned for future chapters in the saga.

Things I No Longer Want to See…

…at the movies.

Using the phrase, “My God…” to inject gravitas into your flaccid plot. Often uttered by actors who were likely staring at a tennis ball on a stick and backdropped by a giant green screen to instill the belief they’re staring at the world exploding or a horde of giant alien dogs invading Earth or a mammoth tidal wave coming to wash away a metropolis, the phrase has become so ubiquitous that it no longer merits any serious consideration as a meaningful exclamation of awe. Let’s go the other direction, please. I’d love to see Will Ferrell utter, “My God…” into the camera, which then pans around to reveal two raccoons eating Cheetos out of a garbage can. My God, that would be awesome.

Movies where someone utters the line, “a storm is coming.” I’ll get my weather reports from the 11 o’clock news, thank you. I don’t need some old, bearded guy with a lantern spouting that line while backed with dense fog and eerie, foreboding music again. It’s been done a thousand times. The metaphor’s been over-used in describing everything from the prospect of imminent war to political shifts in national policies. ENOUGH, I say! If you want to tell us there’s conflict on the horizon, then just say it! “O my! There be conflict on the ‘morrow!”

Trailers where the narrator begins by saying, “In a world…” Yeah, a world “where everything changes;” “where the future is set in stone” or “where terror reigns” or “where cats and dogs live together.” Everyone lives in the same world, pal. Don’t tell me different. And lay off the cigarettes. Your gravelly intonation scares children and makes you sound more like a creepy old guy one might see on Dateline NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” instead of an omniscient, wizened narrator guiding the audience ever-inexorably toward its’ fate.

Parents who can’t control their kids–and bring them to R-rated movies. They inevitably freak out and start shrieking for their mommy to get them away from the bogeyman while the parents just sit there pretending nothing’s wrong. It takes twenty people giving them dirty looks and perhaps throwing various food items their way before they catch our drift and remove the kid creating the cacophony. (Hooray for “cacophonies.”) I realize you want to be able to go out with the hubby whilst simultaneously entertaining your children–but don’t do it while at thrill-fests like Alien vs. Predator and I’m an Axe Murderer Who Likes to Hide in the Bedroom Closets of Little Kids. (Did I just call Alien vs. Predator a “thrillfest?”)

Crappy sound systems. It’s 2007* and you charge 15 bucks for your tickets. The least you could do is learn how to use your digital sound equipment so the theater experience at least approaches what most Americans now have in their homes. Straining to hear what’s going on from the left front speaker that happens to be functioning doesn’t do wonders for my movie-going pleasure. Let’s try to get someone other than the 15-year old working for $4.50 an hour set up and maintain your speakers and soundboards.

Movie titles that contain the words, “Rise of.” Think of something original, you bums! Rise of the Silver Surfer, Rise of the Lycans, Rise of the Machines, Rise of the Yeast–NO MORE, I say! I’d like to see The Rise of Sanford & Son come to the screen, realized as an action techno-thriller from “acclaimed” director Michael Bay.

*Author’s note: the majority of this post was written on December 19th, 2007. I’m slowly cleaning out the closet of drafts in the bedroom that is my blog. My God, that was a great analogy.

Extreme Inspiration

Hadn’t planned on it, but I headed down to Buffalo’s west side to be a part of the big grand finale of the week-long project to rebuild the Powell family’s home, courtesy of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.. How many chances does one have to be at an event like that? Not the Super Bowl, sure; but cool nonetheless.


Some random thoughts and video:

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The High School Playlist

Locked in the throes of a nasty bout of writer’s block while trying to write another epic trip report for my beloved site, I of course was looking for any distraction to divert my already-wandering attention. My wish was granted when a certain song that came up in my Winamp playlist, one that hearkened back to our high school days and got me thinking. Thinking about a “high school playlist:” the songs the DJ played (did we have a DJ?) at the dances, the songs we blared on our car stereo tape players, the soundtrack of our lives, as it were.

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