Feelings and emoticons

I have a lot to say about emoticons, which may be ironic because they are used to express what words cannot or do not. For those who may not be in the know, an emoticon or a smiley is a representation of a facial expression such as : -) (representing a smile), formed by various combinations of keyboard characters and used in electronic communications to convey the writer’s feelings or intended tone. Yes, it’s in the dictionary and thesaurus…at least the recent ones.

Who invented them? Who decided that a colon and parenthesis looked like a smile and could be used in written conversation? Who decided that a semicolon could make a naughty wink, a star could make a kiss, and so on?  You’ll be surprised to find out that the digital smiley face turns 29 this year, which is older than many of you reading this…and the writer as well (I take pride in my youth :P).

One professor Scott E. Fahlman from Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania claims (well he also admits that there’s no hard evidence that he was the one who started the smileys, and that it’s possible that someone else could have had the same idea) that he was the first to use three strokes – a colon followed by a hyphen and a parenthesis – as a horizontal “smiley face” in a computer message, according to msnbc.com’s Associated Press.

This Fahlman dude apparently posted the emoticon in a message to an online electronic bulletin board at 11:44 a.m. on Sept. 19, 1982, during a discussion about the limits of online humour and how to denote comments meant to be taken lightly. Scintillating.
Moving along…not necessarily in a swift manner, I feel that these genius little creatures have really changed the face of communication as we know it.
Anyhow, there are a number of matters pertaining to emoticons that I’d like to address.

The Inappropriate
As genius as they may seem, I find some of these emoticons inappropriate. For example ;-( I don’t know who came up with this one, but don’t you find it rather inappropriate to be winking when sad? Unless you have some sort of eye disorder or are psychologically disturbed, it is quite unusual.

The Noseless
It seems that I’m the only one who has noticed that noseless emoticons seem more expressive than…well, nosed ones. There’s something about their lack of this mid-facial protuberance…AHEM :D…that somehow portrays more emotion than their nosed counterparts. I’m talking about : -( vis-à-vis : ( Doesn’t the latter seem sadder? Same goes for : D and : -D. Doesn’t the former seem much happier? How about :-* , doesn’t :* seem kissier? And so on…you get the picture. I rest my case.

The Strange
It seems hese little creatures have not been left behind in the online revolutions (well, from a bit way back :)). This : -) is the conventional emoticon. There have been several variations of it including the noseless one. For instance (: which, apart from being noseless, is upside down. There’s =) (which I find rather cute :)) and also : o) , :>) , :=) and  :4) Notice how the nose changes. Revolutionary, isn’t it? FYI, I made the last one up – the one with the number 4 nose…viva la revolution de emoticon! 😀

Other strange ones…that need to be done away with are :-[ , :-< and ;> …seriously, wharrathiz?

Still on the revolutionary emoticons, you’re probably aware of the 3D and the active/animated emoticons (some of which I find a little bit creepy). Next, I think we should have talking emoticons…and do away with writing altogether as these emoticons make a forceful take over of written communication as we know it.

Emoticon overuse
A large number of people, yours truly included, are guilty of emoticon overuse and misuse. I blame it on my friendly nature. I always want people to be at ease around me and I do the same thing virtually, I suppose. Most of my online conversations involve a vast array of emoticons, sticking out my tongue, and what not.

What do some mean?
For a while, I was at loss as to what some of these emoticons really meant. Do we need some sort of emoticon civic education for the online population in our country? Maybe.
I learnt not so long ago that this :-“ means blushing. Why and how? I do not know. I also had no idea that %-) means dazed or silly, %-( means confused and :-X means lips are sealed. Apparently :-# also means the same.

Bet you didn’t know these: 😛

!-( means black eye
!-) means proud of black eye…SMH
$-) means won the lottery, or money on my mind
%-{ means ironic (how now??)
((())) Lots of hugging (initials or the name of the one being hugged can be put in the middle)…(very interesting)
(::()::) means band aid, meaning comfort..(awww :))
:+( means got punched in the nose
+:-) means priest
+O:-) means The Pope
-) and :-J mean tongue in cheek
%-6 means brain-dead
%-\ means hung over
=====:} means snake
=):-)= Abraham Lincoln
( 8(|) Homer

This is by no means a comprehensive list. I just picked the ones I found to be of interest. You can find the rest somewhere on the World Wide Web.

Replacement with words
Some emoticons feel so real. Every time someone goes like O_o , I can actually feel their raised eyebrow. This particular emoticon has also led to me raising my eyebrow a lot more in actual conversation…but that’s beside the point. Also when people use O_O when talking to me, I can feel their eyes bore into me. I may be taking these too seriously, though that is also not the point I was making here. Will these creatures ever replace words? Will someone ever invent an emoticon alphabet, say in 2018? There are endless emoticon possibilities in the foreseeable future.

Emoticons for disease and other states
I think we should have emoticons to express disease and other states. For instance, could :-.( be used to say that, “I have a zit on the top of my lip?”  Could ::| be used to say that “I’m seeing double?” :   ( to indicate a long face (literally)… Or :-{D be used to say that “I’m growing a moustache?” You be the judge.

My own inventions
I once came up with my own emoticon inventions in my secret lab. People don’t seem to understand them though. Or maybe they’re just haters. I think that’s it. I came up with : -? to indicate a questioning look. Pretty nifty huh? Yeah I know. Wait till I patent/copyright/TM it.

Oh wait there’s also :4) which I made up earlier. Can someone say emoticon revolution…uh…up in here? (Evidently, I’m not so great at being cool 😐 )

If a picture is worth 1000 words, an emoticon has to be worth at least 937.