Recently, I’ve come to find emoticons undignified. I’ve even grown to resent the fact that I have to use them in order to convey tone in text messages. Unlike “lol”- which can simultaneously be useful and allow for a certain level of irony that indicates your recognition of how moronic you sound (as in “lolz”)- there is no way to distance yourself from the mortification of having to follow a sentence with a “winky face.” A co worker was teasing me yesterday, so I told her that I was smiling but wouldn’t lower myself by using such a silly emoticon. Especially to a colleague. But then I realized, they’re ALL ridiculous. To the extent that they are used judiciously, they serve a legitimate purpose. We do need some sort of emotional intent marker in non-vocal, casual conversation. But must we choose something so tasteless and ungainly? I mean, there’s an emoticon for “vampire” for Christ’s sake. REALLY? As it stands, the only emoticon I can use without cringing is the one that expresses worry and anxiety. Yes, I’m aware of what this suggests about my personality. I hardly see how that’s relevant so shut up.
The point is that for something meant to lessen ambiguity, emoticons are embarrassingly imprecise and melodramatic. If we’re sacrificing elegance, it should at least be in pursuit of clarity. But emoticons are woefully unnuanced. When was the last time you grinned maniacally at someone? Or, even more awkward, winked at them. The only people who have ever winked at me were people cracking a joke and (crudely) men leering at me from their shitty cars. What emoticon conveys the depth of weariness and stoic endurance of ennui with the grace of “le sigh?” Where’s my emoticon that says, “Your last statement was utterly ridiculous and worthy only of my mockery?” Or how about, “I am acknowledging that what you said was humorous but insufficient to make me literally laugh out loud?” Or maybe even, “I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about and am appalled that you would even imply such a thing about my noble personage?”
In conclusion, kids these days…those youngsters…in my day…this generation…uphill both ways, etc