The worst thing about smileys...

There's no nose to punch, and no balls to kick. They just sit there with their idiot grins, "beaming happiness into the aether"... Makes me sick.

I rarely, if ever, use smiley faces in my online text. Sure, they're a great way to denote sarcasm or attempted humor, but so is just being funny. Not that everyone will always agree on what is or isn't humorous. Take the first three sentences of this post.

There's no nose to punch, and no balls to kick. ;-) They just sit there with their idiot grins, "beaming happiness into the aether"... ;-) Makes me sick. ;-)

Does it really need to be explicitly stated that those words are facetious, and meant to be sarcastic?

Smileys help readers interpret the tone of the writer, on teh intartubes and elsewhere. They give a very insignificant portion of body language context. They also require absolutely no effort or intelligence to be understood. It's not cheating, it's just intellectually lazy.

It puts the burden of comprehension on the writer- fair enough to an extent- and absolutely removes any requirement for thought about context from the reader. As they are used more and more, people rely on them more and more to the point where if a post is absolutely void of smileys, some people won't recognize even the most blatant uses of irony or sarcasm.

Worse still, you can see the mental goo-ing effects by the inane discussions on some forums over which smiley signifies irony versus sarcasm versus intentional abuse versus AIDS. (My favorite smiley is ALWAYS the AIDS smiley.) It's ridiculous. The connotative context of the word strings make it ironical or sarcastic, not which emoticon is closest.

If you disagree, fuck you.



\(And then notice how you didn't get the joking context of that last sentence.)

Views: 75

Tags: comprehension, connotation, context, emoticons, irony, language, linguistic, reading, sarcasm, smiles, More…smileys

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Comment by Фелч Гроган on February 3, 2010 at 2:03am
Jason: And let me suggest that the kind of truly illiterate troglodytes responsible for the gibberish in your screen capture below have always been with us. But now they have internet access, so they're more visible.

I disagree. They're multiplying, fueled by i-phones, Twitter and MySpace/FaceBook. Very noticeably. Especially in the work force. As an example, the job of deciphering something as basic as meeting minutes has become steadily more impossible over the last decade. Then there's the added layer of having to pre-screen email to customers in many cases. Work that shouldn't need to be done and never used to be necessary.

It is tragic. Coherent thinking is simply not possible with incoherent language.
Comment by Jason Spicer on February 3, 2010 at 1:35am
Hey, I don't like emoticons either. For one thing, they're rotated 90 degrees from the text. My neck doesn't bend that far. All I'm saying is that shorthand has its uses. So does duct tape. That doesn't mean I want a house built out of it.

My point about irony is that no matter how well you write it, somebody will take it literally, and no matter how sincerely you write, somebody will read it as irony. It's not clear to me at all that this confusion is a function of illiteracy or stupidity. Intelligent and sophisticated people can be mistaken in this. Probably because irony depends on the deeper meaning sounding an awful lot like the surface meaning. Identical, you might say. Saying one thing while meaning another is fraught with the possibility for misunderstanding. Comes with the territory.

And let me suggest that the kind of truly illiterate troglodytes responsible for the gibberish in your screen capture below have always been with us. But now they have internet access, so they're more visible. These are merely the same class of people who, 20 years ago, would never put pen to paper. Technology may have unleashed them upon us, but last time I checked, university degrees, replete with language composition requirements, are still much sought after. We need not fear the debasement of the language or literature on account of the mouth-breathers. They are not likely to vote. I'm more concerned about people with a good grasp of language but no grounding in reality. They can do a lot of damage because they can sound intelligent. Incoherence usually defeats itself.
Comment by Denise Deiloh on February 3, 2010 at 1:23am
=P
Comment by Фелч Гроган on February 2, 2010 at 11:31pm
Jason: Or Diogenes farting his political dissent.

That's like saying Hemingway and Bukowski are irrelevant literary figures because they liked linguistic minimalism. There is as much consideration behind Diogenes' farts as there is behind Hem or Buk's scribblings. This is the key difference - smilies and 'net shorthand are born of laziness and illiteracy. Those that are the product of an education system that churns out imbeciles that are incapable of expressing the simplest of emotions in writing are our collective fault. Those that use them out of laziness show no respect for themselves or you, and deserve no sympathy or respect in return. I find it incredibly rude to be honest, and either refuse to take smiley cripples seriously, ignore them, or use them for sport.

If you think this isn't a problem, then try and find a find a functionally illiterate smiley/LOL cripple and run them through some critical thinking hoops. See if you can walk away without despair. The idiocy is not simply linguistic - it permeates their thought processes completely.

Just sayin'. And doesn't Poe's Law suggest that ironists walk a perpetual fine line between lampoon and endorsement of the position they fake, regardless of the sophistication of the audience?

That is the raison d'être of Poe. Poe is as much to catch clever atheists out as it is applied psychological terrorism to fuck with theist's minds. It is not relevant to what we're discussing.
Comment by JayBarti on February 2, 2010 at 10:36pm
I enjoy writing, so I try and avoid them most of the time, but I can see why people like to use them.

There are times I feel they are appropriate and use them. The amount of emoticon and shorthand depends on the mode of communication, and how much information I actually need to communicate.

If the sum total of information I need to convey is in the range of hi, yes, no, go and ready. Emoticons and txt shorthand is all you are likely to get.
Comment by Jason Spicer on February 2, 2010 at 10:35pm
"Communication is reduced to the level of baboons flinging dung at each other."

Or Diogenes farting his political dissent. Just sayin'. And doesn't Poe's Law suggest that ironists walk a perpetual fine line between lampoon and endorsement of the position they fake, regardless of the sophistication of the audience?

I'm all in favor of people being discerning readers and diligent writers, but this hand-wringing sounds just the teensiest bit like complaining about the debased nature of the youth of Athens, ca 400BCE.

Is it dumbed-down newspeak, or ephemeral slang? Can't people who care about the crafts of reading and writing simply ignore that question? Write well. If people can't understand you, that's their loss. Perhaps you will inspire them to learn.
Comment by Фелч Гроган on February 2, 2010 at 10:20pm
Thomas Hand: Smileys help readers interpret the tone of the writer... and absolutely removes any requirement for thought about context from the reader. As they are used more and more, people rely on them more and more to the point where if a post is absolutely void of smileys, some people won't recognize even the most blatant uses of irony or sarcasm.

Smileys, and 'net shorthand in general, are the death gurgle of a language being corrupted and stupified to attempt to meet the needs of a culture that no longer feels shame at illiteracy or vacuousness of intellect. Smiley apologists jump over themselves to point out that languages are always growing and changing and the phenomenon is merely a language in flux and is of itself neither good nor bad. Post-modernist relativist codswallop. The language is not "growing", it is contracting and being stripped of meaning and nuance. "Growth" entails expansion and depth, allows concepts and ideas to be disseminated in new ways. As you point out, we are breeding a generation of reetards that "won't recognize even the most blatant uses of irony or sarcasm" without an ASCII equivalent of a walking frame.

The great modern dictators understood that manipulating language is the secret to manipulating thought. Orwell devoted entire tomes to it. This lesson was picked up by the polemicists of the new left in the 60's and 70's to fight the demons of chauvanism and sexism via "political correctness" and rapidly devolved into neopuritanism and hatred of anything successful. Right now, it is wielded with great glee by the Neocon movement and their Tea Parties and Faux news. In both cases, language gutted and dumbed down to base lowest common denominators. Shrinking a language shrinks available meaning which in turn cripples abstract and analytical thinking, reducing everything to slogans and sound bites and gibberish. Communication is reduced to the level of baboons flinging dung at each other.

Smileys and shorthand are a different beast, but with the exact same result. It is self-inflicted, driven by laziness, non-existant attention spans, disintegrating historical memory. Of course the business and political world love it, it's too good to be true. A culture that is no longer capabable of thinking critically or discerning illusion from reality is the ideal status quo. Mindless grunt workers and consumers, content as long as they have their electronic gadgets and reality teevee to fill the emptiness of their minds. This is the manure in which the new supertitions and pseudosciences flourish. I don't know about you, but all this scares me more than any number of theists.

If you disagree, fuck you.

Hear, hear !

Comment by Jason Spicer on February 2, 2010 at 10:18pm
I'm ambivalent about emoticons. On the one hand, I pride myself on my writing. On the other hand, emoticons can be extremely efficient. I can understand why they abound in the world of texting and chatting. They're shorthand. I think it really just depends on the kind of writing you're doing. They obviously have no place in an essay. They cheapen creative writing. But they're almost necessary in an instant messaging conversation.

I don't see that they actually serve to take the edge off of sarcasm or even work to denote that a remark was meant in jest. I've seen emoticons misinterpreted just as badly as insufficiently telegraphed irony. I swear sometimes people imagine little devil's horns on top of the smiley. At best, an emoticon can convey the broad emotion you are currently feeling, say in quick response to somebody else's joke. You don't really have a comment, but want to convey appreciation. Though in that case, I prefer the convention of spelling out "heh, heh" or "ha ha". Not a big fan of LOL or ROFLMAO. Unless ROFLMAO is actually a reference to the Chinese leader's interest in misspelled new age therapies.

And what's an AIDS smiley? I haven't heard of that.
Comment by Little Name Atheist on February 2, 2010 at 9:46pm
Heh. I hate emoticons. People write passive-aggressive pap and then expect to get away with it by posting incorrect punctuation. They're like a a silent laugh track to an unfunny sitcom.

Once upon a time, people got across humour by having good writing skills. Now, many just abuse punctuation instead of learning how to fully express themselves.

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