Communication on the Internet is more than just typing out a message and hitting the send button. Chatting, IM, DM and other famous internet slang have stirred the atmosphere for spicing up our daily conversations. Emoticons are tiny pictorial representations of human emotions. The necessity for their presence emerged from the absence of body language in chat rooms. They aim to draw the receiver’s attention to the sender’s messages, and improve interpretation of online communication. With the rapid technology growth in the electronic world, social networks and telecommunications applications devised various types of smileys that ensured an exciting chatting experience for everybody. They convey a diverse array of emotions and concepts when words fail chatters. A simple “Hello!” could be transformed into a sarcastic greeting, a gleeful welcome or a sleepy wave-off when a tiny stylized picture is added to it. Many websites are dedicated to those miniature collectibles. Here we will try to take a look at their different types on the most popular social media and telecommunication platforms.
Sociologists have found that studying emoticons reflected various interesting aspects about human nature. They bring out the nuances and subtleties of face-to-face interactions and how limited people are when communicating online. It reflects how alienated people are despite the decline of human-human interaction versus their interaction on the cyberspace. Ben Agger, a sociology professor at the University of Texas, described this as the “literary age”. This is a time where the youth harness the power of writing as a form of emotional expression to communicate across long distances despite societal and cultural pressures.
Facebook emoticons are not that big of a challenge. People use them on a regular basis in chatting with their friends and they haven’t changed in many years. Despite the newly-added Facebook stickers which represent variable themes and characters, they are the easiest to use especially with simple codes like the 🙂 for the smiley and the 3:) for the devil.
However you have to be very careful with writing codes because they could get misunderstood. They might represent feelings that your words didn’t intend to transfer through chatting. Also teens sometimes use emoticons alongside internet slang exclusively for chatting with one another. Although they are very simple you might get them mixed up for one reason or the other. For example, you could be typing in the code for the laugh 😀 and get it mixed up with the shocked face :O thus creating a big misunderstanding.
Yahoo Messenger was the first platform to globalize the concept of emoticons. When it first came out, the Yahoo Messenger’s pictorial facial expressions were simply called “smiley faces”. Yahoo Messenger has the most impressive collection of standard smileys, the biggest surprise, however, lies in its hidden collection. Most of them are very well-designed, of high quality and they are all free to use. You won’t find them in the menu but you can type the keyboard shortcuts and send them directly through your chat box.
Skype is a chat client that specializes in providing video chat and voice calls from computers, tablets and mobile phones. It is one of the most popular telecommunication applications all over the world due to its simple download steps, easy update features and support of diverse text languages including Hindi. Skype has its standard set of emoticons, but it also has a unique secret compartment filled with adult-themed ones. Beware not to use these hidden goodies while chatting with your boss or a family member who might not accept the crude humor. Skype also has a set of 237 flags. To use them you have to type the following code (flag:country code) for example: (flag:us) will display the US flag emoticon.
Kawaii stands for “cute” in Japanese. It is a very common internet slang between teen girls. It has a prominent effect in Japanese popular culture, entertainment, food, clothing and toys. Kawaii Emoticons is a free Android application that conveys a cute and rich collection. It represents a diverse set of Japanese emotions, whether positive or negative. Among the most famous Kawaii characters are:
- Pikachu from “Pokémon”.
- Kumamon and Hikonyan, two cute Japanese mascots.
- Stitch from “Lilo and Stitch”.
- Mickey Mouse.
- Hello Kitty.
- Felix the Cat.
- Hamtaro, the hamster.
- Care Bears.
- Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
- Monchhichi, a stuffed toy monkey.
WhatsApp is a cross-platform mobile messaging application for smartphones. It is the most globally popular messaging app. WhatsApp uses emoji instead of emoticons. Emoji originated in Japan. The word means “picture letter” in Japanese. There are emoji for people, nature, objects, places and symbols.
iPhone has created a legacy for smartphones when it was first released in 2007. With its capacitive touchscreen and consumer-friendly design, it revolutionized the smartphone industry from strictly business-oriented to worldwide releases. iPhone became less a communication tool and more of a fashion and lifestyle statement. iPhone uses the same list of emoji as WhatsApp. Before using them, however, you have to turn on your emoji keyboard using the following guidelines:
- Tap Settings>General>Keyboard.
- Tap Keyboards.
- Tap Add New Keyboard.
- Tap Emoji.
The first person to use emoticons in the world was Scott Fahlman, a computer scientist at Carnegie Melton University. He used the primitive form of the smiley face 🙂 and the sad face 🙁
Emoticons differ in the West from those of the East. In the West, smiley faces have the eyes on the left and recently the two character version 🙂 became very popular. Slight variations on the character have been made to express a new emotion or a further amplification of the same emotion. For example :(( expresses misery or weeping and the addition of further “D”s to the grin 😀 expresses laughter or extreme amusement :DDD.
The Japanese style -they are called “kaomoji” which literally means a “face mark”- has the eyes upward with the template for emoticons being (*_*). It also relies on changing the eye character for changing emotions due to the Japanese firm belief in the power of the eyes. For example, weeping emotion replaces the eyes with the letter “T” like this (T_T), stress is expressed like this (x_x) and (^_^) represents cuteness. There are over 10,000 kaomoji divided into 4 main categories: feelings, animals, action and miscellaneous. There are also kaomoji that represent characters from TV shows, video games, music videos or pop culture icons.
Brazilian style adds accents to represent eyebrows like this ò_ó, ó_ò, õ_o, ù_u or o_Ô.