Goodbye LOL, hello IJBOL: The new Gen Z code for laughter


Gen Z has ditched the beloved LOL acronym and introduced the more intricate term IJBOL, meaning “I just burst out laughing.”

The online laughter shift: Gen Z embraces IJBOL, bids farewell to old slang LOL

Different from the commonly known acronyms like LMAO (“laughing my a*s off”), ROFL (“rolling on the floor laughing”), or LOL, which are often associated with the Millennial generation, IJBOL — pronounced as “eej-bowl” — doesn’t quite carry the same unique charm.

However, just like how Gen Z-ers have rejected other long-standing symbols of internet culture, such as the thumbs-up emoji, skinny jeans, and blond hair, they’ve also discarded these widely-used acronyms that have been around for decades.

Recently spotlighted by Mashable, the internet sensation IJBOL has become closely linked with famous figures like Nicki Minaj, who collapsed in laughter during a livestream, and Taylor Swift, who erupted in a hearty “ha-ha” on stage amidst an enthusiastic crowd. However, according to Twitter, the unofficial poster person for IJBOL is Vice President Kamala Harris, the NY Times reported.

Renowned for her spontaneous chuckles, Harris effortlessly introduces humor or light tension into various situations. In viral online videos, she’s frequently captured bending over in laughter during interviews, nearly letting go of her microphone, or playfully singing to the camera while sharing laughs en route to her campaign bus.

“I don’t LMAO. It’s just not what I do,” 27-year-old Michael Messineo, a Melbourne-based content creator, told the New York Times.

“I associate LMAO with Millennial humor. But then I associate IJBOL with Gen Z humor, which is funnier.”

IJBOL’s journey from 2009 debut to 2021’s K-Pop fan resurgence

Even though the abbreviation IJBOL made its debut on Urban Dictionary back in 2009, it gained popularity in 2021 within the K-pop fan group. These fans would lovingly sort their favorite idols into different categories using internet acronyms.

The phrase seems to be getting more and more attention on the internet, as the hashtag has quickly reached over 2 million views on TikTok.

“My friends, we’re all around the same age, like 18 to early 20s,” 20-year-old Sebastian Champagne, a Massachusetts college student, told The Times.

“So a lot of us were like, ‘This is going to be our word now!’”

Given all this, it’s no wonder a new generation of internet users seeks a fresh word free from years of overuse. We don’t think LOL will completely vanish, but it might become a filler term, a friendly tic without much meaning.

Although IJBOL is making its way online, it’s uncertain whether it will achieve the same widespread use as LOL. A lot of people still think LOL is a better word for light-hearted conversations.


About the author

Brendan Taylor

Brendan Taylor was a TV news producer for 5 and a half years. He is an experienced writer. Brendan covers Breaking News at Insider Paper.

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