Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Emoticon Controversy

A couple days ago, in a fawning comment re: the VRP, Lynn S brought up a cogent question. In a subsequent post, she treacherously dissed the Project, which called her sincerity into question—but if Lynn is a disingenuous fan, she is still a perceptive commentator, and we grant her that. As she queried, “You don't mind emoticons, do you?”

The mere question, I think, could raise a firestorm. Here is a topic on which the VRP must formulate a stance, and early in the blog’s young life. To that end, here’s a list of extenuating circumstances under which emoticons may be used without guilt. Feel free to disagree or add further conditions of your own.

When Emoticons Are Allowed

1. The writer does not speak English as a native language. Under these circumstances, any means of communication, however crude, may be justified.

2. The writer intends to soften a verbal jab which should not really be taken seriously.
Example: Man, that post came out of nowhere. It was good. Incredibly good. Too good. Who are you and what have you done with the guy who normally posts here? ;)
3. The writer is intentionally aiming for melodrama.
Example: I can’t believe you criticized my wardrobe. How dare you? I feel hurt and very silly. :P
4. The writer needs to clarify dry humor that someone might otherwise be deeply offended by.

5. The writer cannot, for the life of him, think of a better way to communicate congeniality. He is sincere and well-meaning, but not overly creative.

6. The writer’s spirits are unusually high and she feels compelled to share her good humor with the world!!! :D

7. The writer, as a writer, really stinks. As a human, he may have other redeeming qualities.


Proceed with caution. :o


Blogger Erin said...

I despise emoticons, and feel they make a person look silly and unable to express themselves clearly without the additional ridiculous "faces."

With that said, I admit to using them incessantly. Unfortunately, I've found that the lack of verbal intonation and facial expression present when communicating in text-only format make them imperative to avoiding misunderstandings.

In other words, I got my ass cyber-kicked enough times in various chat rooms that I learned my lesson!

Now what's the official position on things like "lol?"

8:53 PM  
Blogger Andrew Simone said...

As far as I am concerned, rule number 7 is the only acceptable reason: the written word ought not to be changed by the internet. A real dialouge is not online, it is face to face...and hopefully at a pub. The written word is far more elegant and requirs a softer touch. Emoticons, however, do not kiss gently but slap.

As for those who use emoticons,I would and do, forgive them, as I do others, for Christ's sake.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Andrew Simone said...

Please pardon the misplaced comma in the last sentence.

11:58 AM  
Blogger martin said...

Many of the same criticisms had been levelled in the days of print at exclamation marks, over-use of italics and capitalisation for emphasis, and over- and mis-use of sic, and prior to that, multiple underlining in handwritten text. All were attempts to reflect in cold text the author's intonation as well as message, and in particular to highlight words used unusually, insincerely or ironically. It is hardly surprising to find the development of yet more ways to portray speechlike informality being developed. Not that we have to like them, though: see this article.

2:34 PM  

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