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.

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