This has a cyclical quality as well. Eventually, these spoken versions of leetspeak are reintroduced into the written language of the Internet. Often, it goes something like this:
Someone uses lol, which turns into the spoken “l-o-l,” which then becomes “lol” but sounds like “lawl,” and at some point someone in a forum thread, in response to something funny, puts up an image of Lal, the name of Data’s daughter from a single, obscure “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode. It’s a big inside joke on several levels, and the creator gets golf claps for pulling together all these references into one simple understatement. Everyone who gets it belongs in the in group, and the behavioral cycle is encouraged and repeated.