Arts Room 101 – Emoticons

🙂 . A reminder to everyone you are happy, yes? Not necessarily. With the rise of Facebook messenger and previously the text, the use of the emoticon has risen, and its use in the literary community has had as much of an effect as LOL or OMG. It is an acronym, of sorts, in that it condenses words to their core meaning; emotion. As such it presents a threat to the artistic community and therefore show be condemned to the pits of Arts Room 101.

Argument 1 – Confusion Combinations

One of the most annoying aspects of the ever expanding list of emoticons is how to complete them manually. There is nothing more frustrating than when you try to add a face, mistype it and are left with a random string of letters or symbols which look rubbish. The main few are easy to remember, but the new faces are growing rapidly and without proper instruction, many struggle to write faces on the move. This is noticeable in texts, where different phones will register faces differently. As a result you may send a subtle 😉 and it is received as a large child grinning insanely with one eye closed. Much with my previous argument against hashtags, there is no uniformity. It will not be long before you just need to place eyes (:) and then any letter/symbol for some bizarre face.


When you begin defining people by a face displayed as an ‘Emotion-Icon’ then something has drastically gone wrong


Argument 2 – What does this even mean?

When emoticons first originated, the main two incorporated happy and sad. Then we got the wink. Then crying. Then angry. Now there are so many that you need to start asking the question, what does that even mean? The classics are still popular and can be placed in conversation to appropriate effect. Yet it is slowly reaching a point where you begin scrolling through 50 faces and you lose understanding of what you are looking for. This further exacerbated on the receiving side, when a further 10 minutes are spent searching through as they do not really understand. Now, we are seeing the introduction of complete random emoticons which are not even faces from thumbs up or hearts. The growth is too wide, and not focused enough for anyone but the hardcore user to understand.


Argument 3 – Emoticons can’t replace faces

It is a sad moment when the world becomes more defined by technology then people. But it has now become that emoticons are an excuse for people to replace faces with technology. You can relay your emotions of the situation in two buttons. Whilst Skype has an actual face, Messenger/texting had to find a middle ground.  Moreover, not only are people replacing faces, but rather more disturbingly, emotion. And how can emotion be defined? There are stereotypes, yes, but it does not reflect a fraction of the humanity. The world has in many ways shrunk due to technology and when you begin defining people by a face displayed as an ‘Emotion-Icon’ then something has drastically gone wrong.

Emoticons have had their time. They had a use 10 years ago and, whilst I am not wholly against their obliteration from the English language, they definitely have gone too far, with soon every emotion being a two-button press away. The simpler the better. People can justify comments or messages by following with an ‘I am angry’ face, instead telling the person they are angry, or seeing that person face-to-face. Thus emoticons should be put into Arts Room 101.

James Hamilton

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One Comment
  • Aurelian
    10 November 2014 at 11:36
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    I stumbled into this interesting collection of arguments against everything emoticon because I was looking for some artist-rendered faces, you know, interesting ones that were…er….artistic. I guess what I’m trying to say is, why not design some that don’t look like they were hatched in the brain of a MacDonald’s Vice-president of Same-Old. You could be starting a new art form.

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