The importance of emoticons is often overlooked because they have become such an accepted and ubiquitous part of our online interactions with one another. You can’t scroll through your news feed for five seconds without seeing a well placed đŸ˜‰ or maybe a 8====D~~~ if you’re lucky. They aren’t a new invention; been around since the 19th century, in fact (Wikipedia!). They have, however,  gained a curious relevance in the digital age, almost a new global colloquial language.

What interests me most is why are they used. Why did we go through all the effort of combing our keyboards to find combinations of punctuation and letters that could make rudimentary facial expressions? It seems strange that many of us have come to the consensus that the words alone will not suffice in our written interactions with one another.

Our expressions is a language that everyone speaks. If you showed a Amazonian tribe a placard (I don’t think the Amazon is famous for its wireless internet) with đŸ™‚ on it they’d know exactly what was up. You’d get the same reaction from them as you would from a Russian named Yuri or a jaded hipster living in Brooklyn.

The truth is that any form of communication that doesn’t let us convey our emotions through our facial expressions and body language freaks us the fuck out. We’re raised to talk with our bodies not just speech. Writing eliminates that and then it’s just us and the words we use. We think to ourselves “My God, I hope he knows I’m joking” and “I want to show my friends how ecstatic I am!”. Thoughts like these are the dark abyss from where :p emerged. We use our expressions to disarm the person we’re talking to and we look at another persons face to figure where they’re coming from. Take these aspects out of the equation then most of us are desperately lost.

You’ve probably heard some old fuck on the train/street/bus/hovercraft lamenting the fact that things like emoticons have created a generation of retards incapable of expressing how they feel using the written word. They’re wrong. This is the one occasion where we can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that the egg came before the chicken. We created emoticon’s. They aren’t oceans, they weren’t always there. We brought them into existence to satisfy our need to be clear with one another. Out of our innate paranoia about accepting what someone says using just words because we can’t see them as they say it.

They are a product of the human condition. Another creation to compliment  the complexities of our interactions with each other. Words frighten us because at their very essence they are just strange marks that are devoid of emotion and emotion is what we are all about.

We are all emoticons. They are an extension of ourselves.