Saturday, June 23, 2012

On Emoticons

Emoticons are stupid. The argument for using emoticons is that one is unable to express tone without them. This is a strange argument because many of us use words for this exact purpose. Then, we simply combine the words into a specific order and add punctuation. No pictures required.

Is it clear what I have done above?

Ironically, if one simply learned how to use the building blocks of emoticons, namely punctuation marks, correctly, then there would be no need to rearrange them into simple shapes, winks and smiley faces.

I like to imagine the driving force behind the emoticon, the spark of genius who created it. And in order to do so, I recall a familiar memory from chemistry class. Remember the dangerous classmate who started out in high school chemistry class, but no one expected him to finish. Most people expected him to be removed at some point within the first month, once the teacher figured out that he was far too unpredictable to use the Bunsen burner? And remember the first Practical, where we had to build molecules, joining atoms and making chemical bonds from colour coded golf-balls with black sticks to represent the bonds? All of the years of scientific progress, this fascinating science that mathematical geniuses would have worked out over centuries, simplified in a wonderful model, but this is lost on the dangerous kid, who sits there and makes a cock-and-balls from the H2O compound. It as if information entering his brain has only one destination, whereby everything eventually is channelled towards penis, or a representation of his penis.

The penis hypothesis suggests that emoticons likely developed from this same classmate, whose talents for not being able to pay attention in Chemistry class were also applicable to English class. Mindlessly going through his phone one day, he realizes that there are symbols in there that cannot be explained: comas, hyphens, colons, semicolons. All of this grammar, meanwhile, is being explained by the teacher at the front of the room. And as the teacher has drawn the symbols up on the blackboard in chalk, the stupid kid looks up from his phone and neuro-molecular connections happen in his brain, unbeknownst to him of course. He looks from phone to blackboard to colon to hyphon when, boom. :- Colon combined with hyphen equals cock-and-balls.

Then he sends it to all of his friends, a cock-and-balls and a happy face emotion.
It is unlikely that the stupid kid is studying anything useful, like science. That kid, who is probably college age, is very likely now studying to become an English teacher. And, in a few years time, he will likely teach emoticons as legitimate punctuation.

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