Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Smiley

The internet has revolutionized communication through the introduction of The Smiley.

When I was a kid, profanity was entirely verboten. But let’s face it…the cool kids swore. They also wore rad Iron Maiden shirts and had cool combs in their back pockets. Maybe some Vuarnet sunglasses and a thin porn-stache gracing their upper lips. And such colorful language! These people could string together phrases that were full of creativity, emotion, and blissfully beautiful filth. I so wanted to be that guy…it wasn’t long before I found a loophole.

I realized that if I were repeating or “quoting” someone or something else, then the responsibility for whatever had been said was not my own. The blame fell squarely on the shoulders of the original offender. You don’t throw the messenger boy out the window of the castle tower for delivering the severed head of your defeated nephew. No no…the messenger boy goes on his merry way, then you summon conscripts from Ireland and seduce the treacherous Robert the Bruce to deliver William Wallace’s heart on a platter. So I became a messenger boy with a license to offend.

As long as I prefaced my profanity with “QUOTE” and closed it with “UNQUOTE”, anything I said was perfectly fine. An example: David just kicked my new soccer ball over the fence at the park and into the canal. “QUOTE! David, you effing worthless piece of shift. Why don’t you….(insert bizarre string of magnificent expletives here) UNQUOTE!” It was beautiful. Full of filth and flawed logic. I could hang with the profanest of the profane with zero accountability.

The Smiley today has essentially the same function as The Quote. One can rattle off the most offensive and insulting sentence in chat, email, or text, but the presence of a Smiley in many of its myriad forms makes the sentence completely innocuous…even funny or complimentary. A commenter on this blog could post “You’re an idiot” at the end of one of my posts and I would be sad. “You’re an idiot ;)” however is perfectly fine and totally welcome. That sly little wink at the end really just means, “ha ha silly boy, you are so funny.” Likewise, “You are the worst writer in the world and your opinion is total cArp =P” is actually denoting sarcasm because of the little guy with the tongue sticking out. That offensive sentence is actually a COMPLIMENT!

Naturally, The Smiley is so overused (like the exclamation point) that its true power is rapidly being lost. Its intent is fuzzy. What if the sarcastic smiley winker dude was actually placed sarcastically, intending for the hateful sentence to actually be sincere, mocking me with its little punctuation features?


Tyler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sherri said...

"The Smiley", brilliant! I loved this post.

BTW, I deleted the two above comments because I was signed in under your user name. To leave them like they were published looked a little narcissistic....:)