Saturday, October 14, 2006

Emote this!

The lexicon of emoticons - that visual shorthand for human emotions - is a trend in emailing and instant messaging which I can't %#!**%#@* wait to see bite the dust.

Alright - I admit - I am not totally pure of intent here. I must confess to having, on occasion, typed one in at the end of a sentence when I suspected my tone may be misinterpreted. But I have always immediately deleted it. I prefer to believe my friends and correspondents are quick enough to detect subtle humour or sarcasm to not require the aid of a visual prompt.

The problem with this is that sooner or later, someone gets into a bit of a literal quagmire over the questionable tone of their emails. Was that some kind of back-handed insult? Was he making a pass at me? What exactly does she mean by "shut up!"?
Oh, we've all gotten so paranoid!!! See what political-correctness has done?!

It's understandable in many ways how the more thin-skinned among us may want to punctuate our sentences with the occasional winky-wink or smiley face, or even a >: - ( when we really mean business. That way, there's no room for confusion and misunderstanding. Only straight ahead infantilization.

The worst - I mean THE ABSOLUTE WORST - are those yellow smiley faces you see in ads on the web, which have become increasingly elaborate and moronic. In the world of on-line dating they are the compositional crutch of choice - and this, in a forum where beyond your looks, the bait to beat is charm, intellect, and wit (ie: originality). Usually the more obviously illiterate a person is - and there are a depressing number of those - the heavier the use of emoticons, to the point where each sentence is punctuated with a different one. Like they know they don't have the means to express themselves in simple English (or any other language for that matter) so emoticons are a sort of stunted visual Cyranno. Often the choice of emoticon has nothing to do whatsoever with what's just been said. An appreciation for Quentin Tarantino films, for example, could easily be paired with a dancing hot pepper.

I don't instant message. I think I've done it twice in my life and that was 3 years ago before children were doing it. I am way behind in the technological times here so luckily, I am imune to the 'need' to instant message. I don't have a cell phone either. I'm sure one day this stubborn luddite stance will all come crashing down on me as I sit in an upside down car in a ditch wishing I had a cell phone to call CAA and 911, but for now, well, no car, no cell. My, this is all very dark! It's about opening the channels of communication, silly! Don't you know suicide rates have dropped in Finland since they pioneered the use of cell phones in that country?
Now there's something to call home about.

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