It's perfect.
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It's a TV dinner.
It's Fuwjax.

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Human emotion is a terribly difficult thing to capture. The movie industry has always tried to put it to film with limited success, and has in my opinion resorted to capturing our emotions rather than projecting the emotions of the characters to the screen. Radio has likewise abandoned their hopes of recording anything more deep than angst instead faithfully following a regimen of catchy hooks and flashy artists.

But even we, the common ordinary everyday people, are finding it hard to capture our emotion in our preferred forms of communication. There are no facial expressions on the phone. Email doesn’t even have inflection. And in the abbreviated form of language we use on chat programs, it’s hard to convey meaning, let alone feeling.

Emoticons attempt to fill this defect of online communication. Smileys have become a part of our culture, and like them or not, they’re here to stay.

I remember the first time I saw a smiley. I was hanging out with a friend of mine in the computer lounge of her dorm, and she was showing me all the things you could do on the World Wide Web, like email and Archie, and how to use the various worms. Then she showed me IRC, which was the only way to chat back in the early 90s. I had no clue what was going on, it looked like a government presentation with poor punctuation. Everything was acronyms and emoticons, an entirely new language.

I think we lost something important when smileys became little yellow circles instead of little strings of characters. You don’t have to get a crick in your neck from turning your head to the side to try to figure out what the smiley is supposed to be. And perhaps worse, we have removed the personal expression portion of emoticons. I’ve seen an Abe Lincoln smiley before, but it wouldn’t be a burst of creative genius to put a little yellow happy circle that looks like Abe into your chat window, at least assuming someone else already made the icon.

But perhaps some of you have no idea what I’m talking about, and even less idea how you could have more personal expression in random punctuation than in happy circles. Please allow me to demonstrate.

Some people don’t use noses in their smileys :)

Some people just put a space : )

Some people use the traditional line :-)

Personally I like using an o :o)

Some people even go all out and use :@)

One day on IRC someone asked why I use an o in my smileys. I asked if they had ever met Bob. After their confused response, I gave the following explanation:

:o) <– smiley

Bo) <– cool smiley with sunglasses on

:ob <– smiley sticking his tongue out on the universally-accepted-as-superior-to-the-left-side-of-the-mouth right side of his mouth

Bob <– Bob

BoB <– you’d think you were pretty cool if you had two tongues too

I have never seen a Bob happy circle. I have made a Bob happy circle a few times, but in general, people don’t get to see your happy circles, just the happy circles on their messaging client. And I have certainly never seen a BoB happy circle. I’m not sure what kind of person would be weird enough to put two tongues on a happy circle.

At any rate, the moral of the story is this. Abandon the happy circle, human expression begins and ends with the colon.

Fuwjax said on 2004-08-09

A little potty humor from time to time never hurt anyone. And you do have to admit: I went to great lengths for that pun.

In fact: I feel very justified in raising : awareness. I do think that we as Americans abuse our :’s, and I feel privileged to serve this reminder that our :’s should be respected.

Perhaps we should declare today : awareness day, and everyone can sing my “Ode to My Ass” from a previous post. Bob

Anonymous said on 2004-08-09

The colon? Really Fuwjax, it seems you reach a little further than that for your puns.

Posted with : Bare with Me