Hershock, in discussing these terms in the context of performative utterances, points out the difference between telling someone that one is laughing out loud and actually laughing out loud: "The latter response is a straightforward action.
The former is a self-reflexive representation of an action: I not only do something but also show you that I am doing it.
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He recommends against their use in business correspondence because the recipient may not be aware of their meanings, and because in general neither they nor emoticons are (in his view) appropriate in such correspondence.
LOL, ROFL, and other initialisms have crossed from computer-mediated communication to face-to-face communication.
David Crystal—likening the introduction of LOL, ROFL, and others into spoken language in magnitude to the revolution of Johannes Gutenberg's invention of movable type in the 15th century—states that this is "a brand new variety of language evolving", invented by young people within five years, that "extend[s] the range of the language, the expressiveness [and] the richness of the language".
Conversely, a 2003 study of college students by Naomi Baron found that the use of these initialisms in computer-mediated communication (CMC), specifically in instant messaging, was actually lower than she had expected.
The students "used few abbreviations, acronyms, and emoticons".
The spelling was "reasonably good" and contractions were "not ubiquitous".
Out of 2,185 transmissions, there were 90 initialisms in total, only 31 CMC-style abbreviations, and 49 emoticons.
They also discovered that the oldest written record of the use of LOL in the contemporary meaning of "Laughing Out Loud" was from a message typed by Wayne Pearson in the 1980s, from the archives of Usenet.
It was first used almost exclusively on Usenet, but has since become widespread in other forms of computer-mediated communication and even face-to-face communication.