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Haha vs. LOL Debate

What Everyone REALLY Thinks of Your "Haha" vs. "LOL" vs. "Hehe" Texting Choices

Are you more of a "haha" or an "LOL" person? Do you ever use "asdlfkjasdl"? What do you think when someone says "hehe"? These are the burning, very 2019 questions that plagued my friends and me during a recent brunch outing, and I was shocked by how differently we interpreted the many ways of conveying humor via text. The conversation led me down quite the Google path, which included The New Yorker's "hahaha" vs. "hehehe" debate and a fun New York Times deep dive into the many laughter variations.

Intrigued, I decided to conduct an informal investigation into "haha" and some of its alternatives, asking a large group of coworkers to weigh in on their habits and interpretations. Said coworkers range in age from early 20s to over 40, and, as hoped, they hold strong opinions. Below is a condensed version of the group's feelings on everything from "hahaha" — my personal favorite — to "lawl." Keep reading to find out what people really think of all the options, but take heart in one universal takeaway: if you're texting with people who really know you, every option is a good one.

haha

The classic, no-frills form of conveying laughter.
What people think:

  • "Feels forced, like if someone says 'haha,' what they mean is, 'that isn't actually that funny.'"
  • "Such a blah response. It's what I say to someone when I'm trying to end the conversation."
  • "If it's lowercase or without punctuation, you should assume that whatever you said was not that funny and maybe you're also bothering the person?"
  • "An acknowledgment that what you said was funny enough to warrant more than a 'ha' but not funny enough for a 'hahahhahahahahhaha' or even 'LOL'."

Consensus: Generally fine to use with people you don't know very well, but typically seen as a knee-jerk, filler response to something that's meant to be funny but maybe isn't?

ha

The shortest way to convey humor.
What people think:

  • "It's the 'k' of hahas."
  • "I only use 'ha' when I'm being petty. More like, 'huh, okay.' But an all-caps 'HA!' means I probably yelled 'HA!' out loud."
  • "Used when something witty made me do that laugh where you just blow a little air out of your nose."
  • "I would never use this."
  • "If I sent you a 'HA!,' I for sure choked."
  • "This is the worst response to receive. I interpret this as, 'You tried.' I only give out 'ha' to people who have given it to me first because I'm not a monster."

Consensus: Capitalization makes a BIG difference.

hahaha

The classic with a little something extra.
What people think:

  • "THE BEST OPTION. Conveys that you're actually laughing without exaggerating too much."
  • "Anything more than two ha's is a genuine laugh, in my opinion. Even if you didn't laugh aloud IRL, you're still chuckling inside."
  • "The 'hahaha' is the Goldilocks of the laughing response. Not too short, not too long — just right."

Consensus: A go-to favorite that isn't going to be misconstrued. Use with abandon.

hahahaha+ (as in, four or more ha's)

Unlimited ha's.
What people think:

  • "If something is really funny, I stop paying attention to spelling: hahahahhhahah!"
  • "I love giving and receiving hahahahahh+s! This is what I use when I'm genuinely laughing at something."
  • "For when something is genuinely funny but not so funny that I burst out laughing. More of a sly smile."
  • "Only used when I'm really amused — like, I would have laughed hard in real life if we were together."

Consensus: If someone gives you a whole bunch of ha's, they really DO think it's funny.

HAHA, HAHAHAHA

Multiple, all-caps ha's.
What people think:

  • "Should be reserved for only THE funniest things so that when you use it, it really packs a punch."
  • "In real life, I have a really loud, obnoxious laugh so this is really what I use when I actually think something is really funny because I imagine this is a visual representation of how I actually sound when I laugh."
  • "The BEST response! I legitimately feel warm inside when I receive this reply and use it only for a true laugh-out-loud joke."
  • "I'm not really about that all-caps life, but my phone's autocorrect likes to add this in sometimes, so I just let it.

Consensus: Universally used and understood as, "Yep, that's hilarious."

ahaha or hahah

A missing first "h" or last "a."
What people think:

  • "I tend to always use this because it sounds the most like how I laugh in real life. I yell AH a lot before laughing."
  • "I like a hahah. It says 'I'm laughing so hard I couldn't even add another a.'"
  • "If you're missing the first 'h,' I assume it was an accident."
  • "I never go for the straight ahaha, but often hit people with the ahhhhhhhhahahahaha, which to me means omglolhahaha all in one."

Consensus: Comes across as either a casual laugh or a casual mistake, but either way, a decent response.

bahaha

A key "b" to kick off the ha's.
What people think:

  • "This one always feels so sincere to me, like you erupted in laughter and surprised yourself."
  • "Feels more forced to me, like to remember to add the 'b' requires more effort than 'hahaha' or 'lololol.' But maybe that's just because I don't use it often?"
  • "It's like it caught you off guard, so your least cute, truest laugh came out."

Consensus: Probably perceived differently depending on how well you know the person you're texting with, but if you're close, likely seen as a genuine "OMG" sort of laugh.

lol or LOL

Haha's complicated cousin.
What people think:

  • "I use 'lol' to lighten my tone. I use 'LOL' when I find something reallyhilarious."
  • "Used extremely casually after things that aren't even necessarily funny but deserve some kind of follow-up phrase."
  • "Honestly, I use this to end conversations. Good talk, pat on the back, bye."
  • "I have a friend that gets very offended if I use LOL in a convo. She feels like it's not genuine."
  • "This just makes me think of that Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where the woman said 'LOL!' instead of laughing."
  • "It feels patronizing."
  • "I swore this off for many years as I believed it was reserved solely for your extended family members who are oversharing on Facebook."

Consensus: You're either an LOL person or you're not, and although people use it with different intentions, if you're texting with someone who knows you well, they'll probably get what you mean.

lolol

The lol, extended.
What people think:

  • "A casual way to say I find this funnier than most things, a step up from just lol."
  • "I love using this to convey that I'm actually laughing, whereas with 'lol' maybe I didn't even crack a smile. Am I fake?"
  • "A way to make my 'lol' sound slightly more genuine. I might not actually be laughing out loud, but you probably got a chuckle out of me at the very least."
  • "What I use when I am legit laughing out loud."

Consensus: Seen as more genuine (and implying that something is funnier) than the standard "lol."

lolz

It's lol with a bold twist.
What people think:

  • "I think of this as an 'lol' with an eyeroll."
  • "As a big fan of adding unnecessary z's to the end of words via text, this is one of my go-to picks. It adds a bit of flair to differentiate it from the overused 'lol.'"
  • "This makes me think of that cat meme from the early days of the internet. I Can Has Cheezburger?"
  • "I'm entirely too old to be adding z's to the end of words anymore."

Consensus: It definitely makes a statement, but some people can pull it off.

lawl

Like lol, but also not at all.
What people think:

  • "Slightly embarrassed to admit I sometimes say this out loud. But via text, I use it when responding to something that elicited a subtle smirk rather than an actual, out-loud chuckle."
  • "I love me an 'lol' but never spell it this way."
  • "'Lawl' is a very casual way of laughing. I use this one often. It's basically the equivalent of saying, 'Good one.'"
  • "'Lawl'? I don't know her."

Consensus: Rarely used, and very much a choice when it is.

asdlfkjasdl

Think: any random (but intentionally so) typing.
What people think:

  • "I love doing this! Like whatever is happening is SO funny that I can't even find the proper keys right now."
  • "I'm laughing so hard that I'm choking and have lost all motor functions."
  • "I definitely use this more for when I'm angry/screaming. If I send you this, know that I've basically lost the will to live and can no longer articulate myself — there are no hahas or lolols to be had."

Consensus: Effectively communicates BIG emotion, but aligns more with "OMG" than "haha."

hehe

Haha, but make it weird.
What people think:

  • "I use it when something is funny/shady, or when I've sent a meme or text that throws a little shade. Additional variation: tehehehe."
  • "Only for when I'm being semi-evil."
  • "This one is just hands-down creepy. Especially types in all lowercase. Do not use."
  • "Every time someone uses this, I imagine them saying it out loud and get weirded out."
  • "I will never not imagine this in the voice of Beavis and/or Butthead.
  • "Oh my god. I love using hehe. When I read it aloud, I heard it as something cute and silly. But now I'm really self-conscious about my love of hehe. Am I creepy?!"

Consensus: Tends to come across as either intentionally or unintentionally creepy, but fine to use with close friends who would know your vibe.

The "HAHA" bubble for a specific message

Aka when you tap a specific iMessage and choose the "HAHA" reaction.
What people think:

  • "In a non-group chat, this is the LOWEST form of text laughter."
  • "Have only used this one ironically. I always assume others are doing the same."
  • "When your group chat sends 40 texts in a three-minute span, this is the only option for acknowledging that something was funny, because by the time you've picked up your phone, they're likely already onto talking about something else."
  • "My mom uses this a lot. Enough said."

Consensus: Cool for group texts, uncool otherwise.

"I actually just laughed out loud"

Because sometimes you just need to clarify.
What people think:

  • "I tend to say this because I want people to know they were really funny."
  • "My boyfriend and I abbreviate this one to 'alol' (actually laughing out loud) so we can trust the person TRULY laughed out loud."
  • "I usually take it a step further here with an 'I just choked' or 'omg my chest' or 'NOOOOO.'"
  • "Because we've all ruined 'lol' and 'haha' and everyone has trust issues over whether or not they're actually funny, I say this when I need the person to know that they actually sent me flying."

Consensus: A very safe, very sincere bet.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Paul Kabata
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