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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

:o) Emoticons: a Conversation :o)

Like the characters, not emojis (@_@;)

We are all familiar with emojis, the little pictures that communicate what words just can’t. Emoticons, on the other hand, are an often unappriecated art of communication where the icons made of keyboard characters are put together to resemble an image. Emoticons create a platform where user creativity shines.

Emoticons vary drastically in look, mostly due to their origin. Western emoticons are read horizontally and come from America and Eurpope, like the classic 🙂 . Eastern emoticons come from mostly East Asia and are read vertically, like (ヽ´ω`). To increase complexity and create compatibility with Western keyboards, users often combine the styles. Like  <(o_o<) or (T_T). The Cyrilic alphabet is often incorporated too: (#゚Д゚).

To get a gauge on the UC Davis reaction to emoticons, three first-year students spoke about their specific emotions and experiences connected to the icons. Each shared the role emoticons play in their day to day lives.

Cameryn Anderson, an undeclared life sciences major, said she doesn’t use them often. She normally goes for emojis because of accessibility since “it takes a lot of effort to type out a whole face, effort I just don’t have.”

Angie Cummings, an art history major, feels differently. She’s passionate about the subtleties in online communication. 

“I use them everyday, they’re more sincere,” Cummings said. “Like, if I actually want to show someone I’m smiling, I’ll type it out. It’s more genuine than emojis.” 

She listed B-), 😀 and 🙂 as her most frequently used emoticons, but emphasized :/ is her favorite because it says a lot.  

Joelle Page, a psychology major, finds a similar sincerity in the tiny faces, an experience many share. 

“I use them [in place of] a period because actual periods are too formal,” Page said. 

Each student responded to specific emoticons so that readers can understand the reception of the different categories.

\ (^o^)/

Category: Eastern

Anderson is enthusiastic about the face.

“I look at it, and I’m like woo!” Anderson said. “If I had this on my copy and paste where I could access it easy, yeah I’d use it all the time.”

Cummings brought up a very valid point: “It’s a little too uwu, I hate UwU.” 

“UwU,” an emoticon that has come to embody cuteness, is overused and, for that reason, disliked. Page harbors different feelings toward the emoticon. 

“I associate that with people who like K-Pop,” Page said. “On my explore page, K-Pop fan accounts use very detailed emoticons.”


Style: Western

This iconic face was revolutionary for the disgustingly ugly graphic tee industry. Many remember it fondly.

“I think ‘Rawr XD’,” Page recalled. “The scene kids. Positive feelings.” 

Those further from the aesthetic dont have the same happy memories. Anderson said the emoji isn’t really her type.

“It’s a little edgy for me, it makes me feel like I need swoop-over bangs,” she said. 

Cummings was split on her feelings toward the emoticon, admitting that it made her mad, but the association with “the glory days” of middle school was overpowering.

~(_8^(I) Homer Simpson

Style: Unknown 

Too often, emoticons are discredited and not seen as what they actually are: art. This portrait proves it. All three interviewees had very emotional responses to the face, from joyous shrieks to confused rage. Page, initially unsure of what it meant, was amused, once she looked at it sideways, “Wow, I’m in shock. I love it.”

Cummings, a forward thinker, analyzed it like a true art history major. 

“It’s very conceptual,” Cummings said. “Deconstructed like Picasso.”

Anderson was ecstatic.

“She is everything,” she said. “I don’t know what context I would use it in, but she’s a keeper.” 

There is a world of emoticons waiting to be copied and pasted into your Notes app for future use. Each means something different to the individual, each conveys a different unique feeling. But most importantly, they make typing (which is very boring) fun and pretty. <( -‘.’- )>

Written by: Livvy Mullen — arts@theaggie.org


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