Emoticons: Express yourself online

by Julie on June 15, 2009

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‘A New York Times transcript from Abraham Lincoln’s speech written in 1862 discovered by Bryan Benilous appears to contain a “winking” emoticon, but it is unclear whether it is an actual use, a typo or a legitimate punctuation construct.’ from Wikipedia

And we thought the use of smiley faces was a new phenomenon! After a little digging, I’ve discovered that the practice is quite old and spans the continents – with emoticons customized to match the physical attributes of their users.

Today, emoticons are used in texting, forums, social networks like Twitter, blogs and IM (instant messaging) tools like Google Talk, AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Messenger, Skype and AIM. Sometimes, they just appear as the punctuation symbol for smile: : ) and sometimes, they’re turned into fun, colorful images.cool

You’ll either find an emoticon tool bar in whichever program you’re using or you can just type the symbol ;P, i.e. winking with your tongue out, or type the word within parenthesis, e.g. (envy). note: this only works with some IM clients.

But what are they for? Well, they guide communications in a way that sometimes the written word can not. They illustrate the look on your face and the feeling in your gut.

You can wink, blush, blow a kiss or prove you’ve got muscle kiss…the list goes on and on. And they do come in handy when you need someone to know that you’re just kidding, being sarcastic or left speechless. Sometimes images are just more powerful than words.

Of course, the ‘usual’ suspects that are listed in your emoticons toolbar aren’t the only ones around. Sometimes, you need to get a little off-color, so to speak…so try these with a close friend (mooning), (rock) and (finger). They’re not exactly NSFW (not safe for work) – but I wouldn’t send them to your boss – and I can almost guarantee they’ll come in handy at some point along the way.

Image courtesy of el finco

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