Britain's prime minister thought LOL meant 'lots of love'? So what?

Former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks, testifying at an inquiry into phone hacking, suggests that David Cameron wasn't quite au fait with texting lexicon. She could have done without the smirk.

Rebekah Wade, lover of laughter. Daily Telegraph Screenshot Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The Atlantic Ocean was experiencing rough waters this morning.

This, many suggest, was due to the sheer power of the guffaws that were being emitted from Britain's shores after it was revealed that the nation's prime minister, David Cameron, seemed unclear what it means when you write "LOL" in a text.

The Guardian reports that former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks, in giving evidence to the Leveson inquiry into News Corp.'s phone hacking, revealed that Cameron send her texts regularly.

She also revealed that he kept signing them "LOL", in the belief that it meant "lots of love."

Asked how he would sign off his texts, she said: "He would sign them off 'DC' in the main. Occasionally, he would sign them off 'LOL', lots of love, until I told him it meant 'laugh out loud' and then he didn't sign them like that any more."

What was beautiful was the superior smirk with which she said this. It was as if she was attempting to explain that the prime minister is just a silly public school boy with little grasp of modern mores -- which is why he needs the media to guide him through.

And yet perhaps she unwittingly also revealed the sad, constricting nature of technological communication. There is a cool way to do it and an uncool way to do it.

If you still use AOL, you are little short of an imbecile. If you don't Square and Foursquare, you're not worth sharing a ginger tea with. And if you still listen to, ugh, the radio rather than Pandora, then you are a prime candidate for a clinical trial.

There's something vaguely authoritarian these days about how the tech community -- in a cahooting gaggle with gullible teens and all of us desperate to be sexy -- is trying to set the appropriate standards of behavior and language.

It's cool to text at the dinner table. It's cool to abbreviate any word or phrase, as long as you follow the prescribed dictionary. It's not cool to use Hotmail.

So the British Prime Minster decided for himself that "LOL" means "lots of love." He wished to express his deep affection for an editor who had helped him into power and with whom he rode horses along very posh countryside.

Instead of accepting the conventional interpretation with a snigger, mightn't someone stop to admire the fact that, at least in this one area, the British prime minister actually thought for himself?

 

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