Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Way We Live Now

An acquaintance of mine (I avoid using the term "Facebook Friend" ever since the teenage son of one of my Real Existence Friends told me "You don't know how funny it is hearing an adult call someone a 'Facebook Friend'") updated his status this afternoon by noting that it was the anniversary of his father's death. Several people commented, writing that they were sad or sorry, but among them, there was one comment that was, in its entirety, and I quote:

: (

Really? Someone mentions how sad they are over the death of their father, someone who meant so much to them, and your response is a sad-faced emoticon? You can't even take the time to type "so sorry?"

I envision a day when we will only communicate through emoticons, a day when they will act like our typographical moodrings to quickly let everyone know how we feel. Orwell was too optimistic when he wrote about language being reduced to "double-plus good" in 1984. On the other hand, perhaps the depth of your feelings can be summed up by a colon and a parenthesis.


Iva said...

Incredible, but it is the "easy" way that wins out too frequently.
I really dislike those goofy things on facebook...or anywhere, really. I also hate u instead of you, ur instead of your, etc. Obviously, I am old and not a texting person, but I fear for the future of the English language.

Erin said...

I confess, I use emoticons on occasion, that way the person I'm writing to in an email (or facebook) understands that I'm kidding. Sarcasm does not come across well over the internet.

That being said, there is something disingenuous about a person who types a sad face at the mention of a parent's death. It's almost like they are saying: "It's terrible that you are dealing with such pain, but I don't really want to put out any effort to comfort you. So, here's a sad face."


That's Hitler with a clown nose. It's my way of saying I think emoticons are silly and evil at the same time.

the hanged man said...

Hitler With A Clown Nose: one of my favorite Smiths songs.

I, too, have used emoticons on occasion, though it amazes me that people can process irony and sarcasm in print, but are completely flummoxed when encountering it online.

It's the utter inappropriateness of using an emoticon to express genuine sorrow or basic empathy that riles me. Years ago, while apologizing to someone, I said (and I quote) "So, I'm really sorry blah blah blah..." She said "You know, John, when you say 'blah blah blah' it kinda takes away from the sincerity of the apology."