Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.


The gazelle has the cheetah, the Colorado potato beetle it’s Podisus Maculiventris and glamazons their petite counterparts.  Natural enemies are, for the most part, easily identifiable.  The seemingly innocent emoticon (tiny faces often added to text to signify emotions) has an enemy I never would have seen coming – people who make their bread and butter off of words.  Really high-end crusty bread and creamy butter, too.  Brenda Ehrlich of and Andrea Bartz of Psychology Today have decided to launch war against emoticons, with a campaign calling for Emoticon-Free December.

Wow.  Don’t you people have anything better to do for the holidays?  You know, cookies to be made?  The hopes of small children to dash at your local mall’s photo opportunity with Santa?

Knowing that Ms. Ehrlich and Ms. Bartz are humorists (the forces behind book and blog titled Stuff Hipsters Hate) I’d like to think that their brains are wired to take on bigger stuff than the lowly emoticon.  Seriously.  There is a whole world out there just waiting to be made fun of by brilliant minds like theirs.  Leave those poor smiley and frowny faces alone.

While the smiley face added to a note is nothing new, it does seem to have been catapulted into the webisphere in 1982 by Scott E. Fahlman, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University (BTW: home of Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture – a man whose whole existence could be summed up with a googleplex of smiley faces).  Fahlman thought the emoticon was a good idea because the terribly serious computer science community needed a gentle nudge to assist them in taking online posts with a grain of salt (or sugar).

There is an autistic child in my house who has had difficulty reading facial expressions his whole life, but emoticons have helped him label his own emotions along with the emotions of others – so I’m a fan.  Considering that people with autism typically have special skills that draw them to fields of mathematics and analysis, it is not surprising that the computer science community needed and has benefited, I’m sure, from emoticons.

The two women behind the Emoticon-Free December movement have been quoted as saying, “emoticons have reached STD-like proportions” and that they are nauseated by the scourge of smileys and winks, believing that those who use a wink in a missive wouldn’t do so in real life.


Comparing one of the few ways we have to infuse personality into words (words that can often be misinterpreted or taken too seriously) to disease?  Well, that’s just mean.  It is the equivalent of kicking a small dog for just being too darn cute.  We have become such a text-y society with little-to-no face-to-face time with other human beings it really is just a natural instinct to try and include whatever inflection and personality we can into our short interactions with one another.  Honestly, so few words, so little time.  Please forgive me the inclusion of three or four characters to express myself.

Oh, and those of you not brave enough to wink at me in person?  You should know that I’ll still blush just as much behind the comfort my laptop.  And the glow isn’t just from the monitor either.

Emoticon-Free December?  I don’t think so.


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