Using Smileys

Typed messages are the primary component of most online communication—e-mail, online chat, postings on bulletin boards and Usenet newsgroups, and the like. One problem with typed messages (as opposed to face-to-face conversations or videoconferencing) is that people cannot hear inflections or tones of voice and cannot see gestures, facial expressions, or body language. As a result, the emotional content of messages can be lost or misconstrued. Consider, for example, the message "You're going to John's party." Depending on inflections, tone of voice, and other factors, this message might mean

"I can't believe that you, of all people, are going to John's party,"
"I am surprised and excited that you are going to John's party,"
"Why are you going to John's party instead of Julio's?"
or any of a host of other things.

Enter the smiley. A smiley, also known as an emoticon, is a series of keystrokes used to represent a facial expression. The basic smiley, which indicates a good mood or a statement meant to be taken humorously, consists of a colon, a hyphen, and a right paren, as follows:

: - )

Smileys are generally used for clarification or emphasis following typed statements. They can also be used in lieu of typed statements. For example, instead of making a comment during an online conversation, one might just give a knowing wink:

; - )

Other commonly used smileys and their meanings are as follows:

: - ( Displeasure, sadness, depression
: - I Indifference
: - > Sarcasm
: _ - ( Crying, sadness
: _ - ) Being so happy that one is crying
: - S Incoherence, confusion
: - D Laughter (sometimes at the expense of the person being addressed)
> : - > Devilish mood
: * ) Silliness or clowning around
: - 7 Wryness
: - * Sourness
: - o Surprise
: - O Yawn, boredom
: - C Extreme unhappiness
: - @ Screaming
: - w Speaking with a forked tongue
: - J Tongue-in-cheek comment
: - p Sticking one's tongue out
: - & Tongue-tied
% - 6 Braindead
X - ( Dead
: - ) ~ Drooling
@ = Extremely displeased (a mushroom cloud from a nuclear explosion)
: - : Mutant
: - / Skeptical
| - I Sleeping
: - ~ ) A cold
: - ~ ( A bad cold
: - X Lips are sealed
: - 9 Licking lips
8 - ) Wearing glasses
: - # Wearing braces
: - { ) Wearing a mustache
: - { } Wearing lipstick
{ : - ) Wearing a toupee
@ : - ) Wearing a turban
O : - ) Angel
* : o ) Clown
C = : - ) Chef
K : P Child with a propeller beanie
< : - I Dunce
( : I Egghead
8 : - ) Girl
: < ) Person from an Ivy League college
+ - : - ) Person who holds religious office or is religious
- : - ) Punk rocker
* < : - ) Santa Claus
O - ) Scuba diver
: - Q Smoker
: - ` Tobacco chewer
: - [ Vampire

Other ways of expressing one's emotions online include setting off words with more-than and less-than signs, as in or , and using abbreviations, such as LOL, for "laughing out loud"; RTFM, for "read the (fabulous) manual"; and IMNSHO, for "in my not so humble opinion."


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