Reflections on Giving up “LOL”

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My best friend and I are avid texters; we ‘speak’ every day through text and instant messages. It keeps our friendship alive despite the distance between us.

This summer we were discussing some of the most annoying things that people do when texting and we came to the agreement that we both hate it when we send something substantive to someone only to receive an empty ‘lol’ in return.

Of course, in the week following our discussion, we were both very aware of our own bad habits and noticed that we each killed discussions with a simple ‘lol’ followed by… nothing. Or, worse yet, surrounded something substantial on both sides with a ‘lol’. How annoying is that?! In real life that would sound something like:

“HAHAHA I’ll talk to you later, my lunch break is up HAHAHA”

Ugh. That person would be on my nerves with their fake, meaningless laughter.

We’re both very interested in communication, especially as it applies in the digital age, so we decided to take on a challenge: we would try not use lol – or equivalents like hahaha, lmao, ect – in our text or instant messages.

We left the challenge open-ended; the goal was to learn to communicate better.

And we did. Almost instantly I noticed a huge change in how we shared; statements that once laughed off were actually followed with a response. We started to explain what it was that would make us laugh, or what it was that made us uncomfortable, nervous, hesitant, or annoyed - it turns out that ‘lol’ was covering all sorts of emotions.

We stopped leaving each other hanging and started actually communicating.

My take-away from this challenge is simple: never hide behind lol, at least not with the people you care about. Be open and honest. Be silly and spontaneous. Be uncomfortable and real. Be something by expressing yourself with words instead of empty letters.

I love to laugh out loud, but it just doesn’t sound the same in silence.

Phantom Editors: fact of fiction

OOoooooOOOOoooooooooo…

I’ve been blogging (consistently) for a month and a half now. During that time a number of things have come to my attention:

  1. Blogging requires a time commitment somewhere between a favourite hobby and a part-time job
  2. Writing one single blog post is sometimes a day-long process if you’re busy jumping between activities (like me)
  3. And… sometimes, no matter how many times you proof-read, you will find the strangest errors in your posts. Ones that you would just never make. Be they formatting, grammar, or spelling, these are the types of errors that hit you from out of the blue – they contradict your obsessive proof-reading ways!
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An approximation of a Phantom Editor hard at work

These, dear readers, are what I have been calling my Phantom Editors.

Don’t bother looking them up on Google (unless you’re a big fan of Star Wars fan-fiction) because you won’t find them. Like their name suggests, a Phantom Editor is a super-natural ghost-like creature brought to life somewhere deep inside your blogging devices. The get their kicks from auto-correcting, format-mangling, and punctuation stealing. They eat apostrophes for lunch, leaving bloggers to explain to their fathers that they do know the difference between “its” and “it’s”. And, worst of all, they chew up formatting, leaving your posts confusing to navigate.

The place of residence of the Phantom Editor has yet to be discovered – they may be inside your mobile telephone, inside your internet browser, or even associated with your blogging host (WordPress, have you looked into this?). Where ever they are, their presence is known by the clues that they leave behind.

What can you do to protect yourself from Phantom Editors?

It’s a good question. Since they are super-natural creatures, there is little you can do to protect yourself. I recommend making use of the preview option when proof-reading your blog posts. This will give you a look at what the phantom editors have in mind for your post. Also, having a friend look over your work using the WordPress “request feedback” option is invaluable. They are often able to catch the edits before your eyes can adjust to the work of the clever phantoms. Finally, try to stick with posting from just one device to avoid changes as your posts gets passed between one set of editors to the next.

I wish you all the best of luck in dealing with your phantom editors!

Elle