Do you do a lot of texting? E-mailing? Tweeting? Facebooking? Livejournaling? Other web-related things?
I do a fair amount of all that and more and I freely admit that I make use of emoticons. You know, those little symbols people make out of their keystrokes to show that they’re smiling , winking , frowning or that they’re Abraham Lincoln ==):-)= or Cthulhu (:€.
I’ve noticed that for the most part people tend to be divided into two camps over the use of emoticons. Either they love them or they hate them. Emoticon lovers tend to slather all their posts with little smiley faces, “leet” speech, acronyms and deliberately misspelled words and phrases (which are often called “lolcatz” for reasons it would probably take most of a second article to fully explain). Haters of emoticons decry them as ignorant and childish and tend to characterize people who use them as annoying zeebs with cuteness fixations who don’t know how to properly express themselves in writing.
I’m not deeply enamored of emoticons but I do make fairly frequent use of them. Why? Because they’re handy communication tools.
The trouble with the vast majority of internet-based communication is that there’s no way to determine the tone of the person writing to you. Let’s say you’ve just sent out a text message letting your circle of friends know you’re about to go on a date. You immediately get a message back from Bob that says:
“Don’t stay out too late!”
Now I’m sure you see the problem here. Is Bob actually telling you not to stay out too late or is he joking? Does he actually think that you’re still a teenager and that you can’t take care of yourself or is he just doing some harmless ribbing? Is Bob being a supportive pal or an overbearing jerk?
The fact of the matter is that Bob has made a perfectly innocuous statement. But now it’s spinning around and around in your head. When you go to meet your date you’re so angry, frustrated and nervous that you mistake them for a valet and toss them your keys, upon which they angrily get into your vehicle and drive off. So, now, having no car and having realized your mistake there’s nothing you can do but sit at the bar drinking yourself into a depressed stupor until they throw you out. Then you wander the streets drunkenly until you’re accosted by muggers and beaten to a bloody pulp.
But, fear not! With the use of a single emoticon the whole nightmare scenario can be avoided!
Imagine if, instead of sending the message, “Don’t stay out too late!” Bob texts, “Don’t stay out too late! ” You see that? Bob is winking at you! That means he’s just kidding around! He’s really wishing you well on your date after all. What a scamp Bob is! Now you can go out on your date with a clear head and perhaps have sex later in the evening.
So that’s pretty much why I use emoticons. Not only does it help prevent people from being beaten into unconsciousness by roving gangs of angry youths, but it also helps keep people from thinking I’m a total jerk.
Click below if you’d like to hear me read the article:
Music by Dave Girtman & John Philip Sousa
A very good question! Don’t I already have TWO other blogs and a couple of podcasts to do? It’s not as though I’m exactly overflowing with free time. And why on Earth should I want to add a new blog to the millions already out there — surely it’ll have even less impact than pouring a thimbleful of water into the Atlantic Ocean!
Hey, I’ve got my reasons. Here are a few of them:
1. Personal Branding. No, I’m not talking about scouring my flesh with a heated, iron emblem. I mean that as my various projects progress it occurs to me that it would be nice to have something that helps link them together in some way and make them more accessible. This way, now, if anyone wants to check out the different aspects of what I’ve been doing or thinking about, there’ll be a central place on the web for them to go.
2. More Writing. I’d like to start doing some freelance writing and in order to do that I need samples. So, I plan to use this blog to produce lots and lots of nonfiction articles about anything and everything I find interesting. If I can manage to do it regularly then maybe that’ll help get me into the habit of writing more, which can only be a good thing. And hopefully I can make it entertaining to anyone who wanders by this little site of mine.
3. The Experiment. I’m all about media experiments. You’ll notice a play button at the end of this entry (or at least you will if I can get everything working properly). If you press it, you’ll get to hear me read the article to you, thus giving you the choice of reading through it, listening to it or both, if you’re so inclined. It’s something that I saw one or two people doing on their fiction blogs and thought I’d give it a try. I plan to do that with every article I post. Let me know what you think!
4. I want to. I also never really had much of a sense of time management, anyway.
So there it is. Let’s give this here article-writing thing a spin and see how it handles!