emoticon this…

Much has been written on the subject of the decay of the English language. Tomes of text. Volumes of verbs. Stacks of scrolls. At the end of the day nobody is quite sure who to blame. An increase in instant written communication options has been generally lambasted as the culprit. SMSing, emailing and instant messaging are convenient scapegoats. The underlying issue is public apathy – which can be blamed for all of society’s problems – obesity, the decline in public morality, reality television… Rather than attack the root cause of the problem, I’m going to attack a symptom of this linguistic malaise. Lets face it, I’m not likely to be able to solve a major social issue on the pages of my blog. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to change you.

I h8 txt talk. I still write out my SMS’s in full. I refuse to succumb to the succubus sucking the life from the lexicon. Ok, so maybe I’m working too hard to be alliterative. But at least I’m literate. Unlike those people who require pictures to communicate emotions. That might be a little harsh.

Emoticons, for the uninitiated, are those little smiley faces that have wormed their way into the hearts and messages of the internet (I also can’t figure out what the internet has done to deserve proper noun status. I’m not going to capitalise it just because Microsoft tells me to…) generation. I can almost cope when people use common acronyms from the internet vernacular. Provided people are actually laughing out loud (lol) or rolling on the floor laughing (rofl) I don’t mind abbreviation. It’s efficient. I don’t like being lied to though – and I’ve never actually witnessed anyone rolling on the floor (and certainly not roflmao – you can look that up, this blog will not be denigrated with profanity – suffice to say it requires the removal of one’s nether regions (note – not never regions…)(further note – I’ve always wondered how the Dutch feel about the Netherlands tag given its association with said regions) but I’m prepared to let that slide. But really, is it ever conversationally necessary to represent your opinion with a little smiley face? Or a winking smiley face? Or a smiley face with glasses? Or a smiley face with a frown? Or a crying smiley face? Or one of the 69 emoticons provided with MSN messenger. Admittedly some of those 69 come in handy when you’re telling a story about an aeroplane (ap) getting struck by lightning (li) and crashing into a desserted[sic] (^) island (ip). Or a story about a girl (x) being attacked by a vampire bat ( :[ ). Outside of these circumstances I see no real reason to be using emoticons in general conversation. Unless of course you are actually pulling that face at the computer and want the other person to know. But if that’s the case there are a lot of people out there who poke their tongues out at the computer… and that worries me.

How Microsoft think its possible to encapsulate an emotion in a little picture is beyond me anyway – it flies in the face of every significant literary figure who struggled to adequately describe feelings – the depths of despair and heights of elation can not, and should not be represented by little, round, yellow men.

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.

14 thoughts on “emoticon this…”

  1. but smiley, a picture is worth a thousand words, and emoticons are an attempt (albeit poor) to include some of the non-verbals of face to face communication.

    How else would you know when someone was being sarcastic /funny /concerned /mad in 3-5 keystrokes?

    <sarcasm> I guess everyone could use xml </sarcasm>

  2. “sms’s” …sms is? or did the sms own something? Also. if you HATE emoticons soooo much, then why, may i ask, has your msn name been “:)” for ever? It leads me to believe that you don’t really hate emoticons. And what about the awesome emoticons, like the fat boy dancing, or Napoleon dynamite, or the guy smashing his head on the keyboard? You gave me half of them…i think your lying. You just want to make yourself look good, and try to show people that you can use words well. You’re pretending that you can describe to people how happy you are using words instead of simply typing :D. Well, obviously, you can, but so can other people, but why waste everyone’s time by saying “im delighted, over the moon, i’ve never been so happy in my life” when all they need to see is “i feel :D”? Its stupid. And, what else is stupid is that you use emoticons, and you’ve just made a whole blog saying how stupid they are…ALSO. I hate when pgtateomaaateiiba (people go to all the effort of making an accronym and then explain it in brackets afterwards), because what’s the point of abbrev-ing it in the first place?!

  3. One picture is worth 1000 words
    One word can make 1000 different pictures for different people.
    but 1000 words make one picture.

  4. What i was trying to say before was I LOVE EMOTICONS- you can never have too many. And, they’re great for good stories.

  5. but I abbreviated it to SMS’S because apostrophes can also be used to indicate abbreviation

  6. This entry I only skim read! Your short or informative ones are better. I also think less is better with the comments too.

  7. This blog needs some of those electric plate things pushed onto its chest…(you know the ones where they yell “CLEAR” on ER…) I’ve just crawled through the masses of not so entertaing blogs…actual im refering to one…which was the answer to Marks question…i mean seriously. A little less boring conversation and a little more conversation action (elvis!)…sorry to be rude. Maybe lots of people enjoyed that blog and i am just highly uneducated.

  8. Sorry – did you anonymous people get the impression that I actually wanted or valued your opinions?

    No… good.

    I think the point of blogs is for the blogger to express the things they want to express. So blog off.

    I refuse to be critiqued by someone who believes in the use of exclamation marks.

  9. upon reflection – neither SMS’s or SMSes is correct. Short Message Services would probably be the correct longform version of the plural which I guess that SMS is valid as both a singular and a plural.

  10. Madd,

    Nathan’s Instant Messenger (IM) moniker is appropriate – being a “smiley” – and it therefore is not being used as emotional shorthand, but as a kind of “trade mark”

    Though I take your point about the inherent hypocrisy.

Comments are closed.