Digital technology is now the primary and most popular means of conveying a message, whether across the room or across the world. Who mails a letter anymore? People with time who are not to be trusted, that's who. Even my 91 year-old Grandmother texts me her wine shopping lists now. While electronic communication is great - even helping forge and strengthen relationships - it does have drawbacks.
Some people find it difficult to convey feeling or emotion via texts and email, and so the emoticon, or "emoji" was born.
Don't celebrate this breakthrough however, because as I am about to explain, these images or creative punctuation use rarely means what you think it means. There is a whole underbelly to emoji usage and I've made a quick and handy decoder chart to help you out when reading emails from your so-workers, texts from your grandmother, or Skype messages from your University roommates.
This seemingly happy fella is the worst of all emojis. He's the guy in high school you thought would keep your secrets forever, but then gave the Yearbook editor that Polaroid of you from the time your boob fell out of your bikini at Kevin's pool party. He's a good looking jerk, is what I'm saying.
= I am amused. I feel good about this thing I just said!
= I legitimately smiled at the previous statement. Life is great, and I appreciate you as a person.
= This conversation genuinely amuses me! Look how fun we are!
= Please stop replying. I can't see a polite way out of this conversation.
= Seriously; I don't want to continue.
= LEAVE ME ALONE.
= GO SCREW YOURSELF.
= You should probably park your car in the garage tonight.
= I would kill you in your sleep if I didn't think I'd get caught.
A frownie emoji is useful in electronic communication, or so you'd think. The truth is, while real, true, lasting friendships can be forged online, for the vast majority of the people we come across on social media, we're pretty meh. Be honest. Basically, if the news is bad enough that it warrants actual condolences, a frownie is not gonna cut it.
= Whatever happened is terrible. Just terrible.
= A bad thing took place and I am so sorry that bad thing happened to you.
= I don't know what to say so here's a sad dude to express my grief at the death of your beloved family member.
= That really sucks and I am glad it's not me this is happening to.
= We are internet friends. Seriously; I met you in a cat care chat room. This is the reply your flat tire warrants at this tier of friendship.
= I wish I didn't know you. Your updates require too many of these frownies in response and I feel nothing but dread when I see you in my feed.
= I AM NOT SAD. I AM EATING A BOX OF YOGOURT COVERED PRETZELS AND THINKING ABOUT MAGIC MIKE WHILE YOU GO ON AND ON ABOUT WHATEVER YOUR LATEST TRAGEDY IS THIS TIME.
= I am incredibly uncomfortable in this exchange. I hope my signal cuts out to release me from this hell.
= How did I get to this place? I wish burned the first AOL American Online CD I ever found in my mailbox and moved to the woods.
Winkies are the most protective and overused of the emojis. They shield you from backlash if your sarcasm is not detected, and they also function as a digital "Get Out of Jail Free" card for assholes and idiots who think they can say things no valuable member of society would ever think, let alone say outloud. Sometimes winkie guy also appears as his evil twin, Tongue Stickie Outie Guy.
= I am feelin' cheeky!
= This sentence doesn't seem complete without a little something extra....ahhh, there it is.
= If I knew how to send .gif or .wav files, I'd send a rim shot sound effect.
= I am winking so you know I'm joking because I don't trust you are smart enough for my particular brand of humour.
= Intended to punctuate the hilarity of my attempt at snark which I know isn't working but I double down under pressure.
= Oops! Cat walked on keyboard.
= Meet "Winkie;" the universal symbol of passive aggression.
= My overt racism, sexism, ableism, and/or elitism are rendered null and void with this winkie to lighten the mood.
= I meant every word, because I am an unabashed asshole.
So there you have it, clear as mud. Also, I'm sorry I ruined Facebook for you.