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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Decepticons

I was recently engaged in an eloquent conversation about the intricacies of skydiving over Facebook Chat with a male friend of mine. As we reached the subject of fear at the lip of the plane, I played the machismo card and boastfully claimed that I would be void of fearful human instinct. Unimpressed, he replied, “”Just wait till you’re looking down 12,900 feet.”” Then: “”;)”” There was a silence. The emoticon hung grotesquely in the air for a few seconds. Then there was furious typing from the other end, and: “”I immediately regret that winky face.””

The purpose of this anecdote is to show the complete social evolution of simple sideways faces in the past five years. A very defined dynamic has become attached to these previously insignificant symbols. Where they were once just substitutes for facial expressions during the pioneer days of social networking, they now carry heavy implicational baggage with each one. Winky face is no longer a winky face; it is a hundred and one connotations, most of them unmentionable in print. The entire emoticon experience has mutated into a completely different experience, one that I’m sure the creator could never have imagined when he placed that fateful parenthesis next to a colon and exclaimed “”Eureka!””

Smiley faces — 🙂 — are the most ubiquitous and overused of emoticon arsenal. When I see it in a text, I can only imagine that you are grinning manically on the other end as you type. Because of this image, it is only acceptable in very specific contextual messages. Yes: “”I just overdosed on ecstasy 🙂 🙂 :)”” No: “”Let’s get some lunch 🙂 🙂 :)”” Unless we are feasting on the happiness in people’s souls, I do not want to be confronted with smiley faces. They’re meant to give a positive vibe to texts, the equivalent of “”haha”” preceding most sentences. (“”haha, well if you don’t pay rent I’m going to ship your dog to a location of my choosing. haha.””) However, their use is getting out of hand, and I don’t need a chorus of smiling creeps invading every mundane message I receive.

Smiley faces are also greatly useful in the battlefield of love. 🙂 is the gateway drug to the winky face: the first bought drink of shorthand correspondence. A winky face played too early comes off as creepy and desperate. A smiley face is a potentially innocent add-on, although most are catching on to its ulterior motives. A well-utilized smiley face can avoid sexual over-aggression, taking the edge off of the seductive winky face.

Modern social norms have transcribed this simple combination of “”;”” and “”)”” into the most coy and forward facial experience in the world. Megan Fox pursing her lips on a cherry popsicle would have nothing on the ;), even though I would love to see Mark Zuckerberg turn that first scenario into a secret emoticon. We have managed to turn “”laugh out loud”” into “”lol,”” “”be right back”” into “”brb”” and now, “”whatever I just typed is superfluous, we should have sex”” into “”;)”” Anyone who doubts the forward evolution of the human race needs only to look to this phenomenon to see that we are clearly on the right track.

Winky and smiley are the two most obvious examples, but many others have popped up in my daily communication in this modern era. One of my favorites is the coalition of X and D. XD can only be expressed as, “”DJ Tiesto just shot an ecstasy pill into my face, and this is what the happiest dent in my face looks like.”” I try to convey this level of intensity in most of my outgoing texts, so I’m a big fan.

Another celebricon is the :-P, which allows you to show how wacky your mentioned actions were. This emoticon comes with the pre-bottled connotation of “”disregard the theological, criminal and moral implications of my story, I was just being wacky.”” It’s a great way to immediately remove the edge off of any admissions (“”I just burned down the precinct :P. Lets have anarchy sex ;)””)

The evolution of technology and the shorthand movement is still going strong, and as we approach the literary singularity, we’ll soon be able to express entire novels in emoticons. (“”War and Peace: >:-( & :|”” I think you’ve already seen “”Moby Dick.””) Perhaps an over-prediction, but I think we all know that it’s not far off. Until then, you should probably come over and watch a movie or something. 😉

— Johnny McKay is the multimedia editor of the Daily Wildcat. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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