A winking smiley face can change the meaning of an entire conversation. It can start wars, end relationships and indicate partial blindness- quite powerful stuff when you consider that it’s just plain text and not words. Consider the following:
Wanna hang out today? 🙂
Wanna hang out today? 😉
See the difference? Seems fairly stark doesn’t it? Well apparently not. As with most things in life, I first had to get this one wrong to realise that you can’t just go throwing emoticons into your text messages all willy-nilly.
Shall we begin with the basic definition of an emoticon? An emoticon is a series of punctuation marks that form a face, expressing an emotion. Yes that’s right, an emoticon can express in a couple of dots and lines what you could not describe in words.
When it comes to the traditionally smiley face, there isn’t much room for error when it comes to the intended meaning of this punction collection. Its fairly safe to say that when someone drops a smiley face into a message, they’re referring to being really happy or to the fact that they’re in agreement with whatever has just been said. Where the real trouble comes in is when you either start receiving or sending those winking smiley faces in text messages.
Similar to a wink in real life, the winky face is more than just a simple smile- It can mean that what you’ve just said is a complete lie or even that you’d like to do something a little bit more than just deliver a letter into someone’s letter box 😉 For me, it mostly refers to the age old and rather cheesy “You know what I mean” phrase, which when used in normal conversation is usually followed by strange hand-gesturing. While engaging in my usual daily Twitter 140 character-bound Twitter conversations (follow me: @RickyBynight), I was having a particularly intriguing exchange with a mooiness (at least I think it was a mooiness, it really could have been a teenage boy in a bedroom somewhere in Asia for all that I knew) when I responded to a compliment about my writing with a typically witty “those aren’t the only skills I have ;)”
Failing to realise how seriously people take the winky face, I was immediately flooded with a couple of direct messages (these are private off-screen messages in Twitter) all enquiring whether I’d be willing to treat the followers who responded to my ramblings with a bit of sexy time (and just so you’re all clear, I was referring to my stand-up comedy & MC work, not sex. Obviously. Ok).
It dawned on me that I needed to start examining exactly what those little faces that get sent to you via text message by your friends, and more importantly by your love interests, really mean.
Traditionally the : ) means I am happy or can also be used to indicate tone in a message. For example: Perhaps you are writing an email that could be construed as being a touch harsh in its content and to ensure that you don’t sound too mean and nasty, you add in a : ) for good measure. If you are more than just plain old happy, you might consider replacing the parenthesis with a capital D, like this :D. This particular face might tell your intended reader that you are particularly amped about something- like going for a beer after a long week at work or having sex.
The opposite of this joyful collection of dots and lines is the “I’m sad” face : ( Really what this face refers to is being relatively bummed about something. For example, “I haven’t been able to log onto MyCityByNight today and get my daily fix of awesome 🙁” says that this particular individual has superb taste, not concerned with the other drivel out there on the internet- thus making them unhappy that they’ve missed out on a day of awesome at MCBN. If one wanted to express actual sadness (involving crying, asking the question WHY ME?! before most thoughts etc) through an emoticon they might add an apostrophe, otherwise known as the tear. :'( As a bit of a sidenote it is rather important to bear in mind that this can’t be used as a reaction to an actual death- For one- you shouldn’t be texting someone who’s mom’s just died to say you’re upset about their loss- that would be insensitive. Secondly, there is no “I’m sorry for your loss” emoticon, making this instance, one where you would actually have to remember how to pick up the phone and call someone.
Now for the main culprit of misunderstanding and sex-by-mistake, the notorious ; ), the winky face. Accompanied by the right text message this could mean that your current crush can expect to have some cuddly time which is on par with usually above-standard birthday sex. It could also mean that you only have one eye and would like someone to make arrangements for your visual impairment. Actually, now that I think about it- the winky face almost always refers to sex. Whether to indicate that secretly you would like to bone your friend and are scared that they might not want t bone you back, or that last night’s movie turned out to be a way better evening because you got drunk and bonked the horizontal tango is the master of the winky face.
It is a cool way of saying “ya know what I mean” without the douche-baggery that accompanies a saying like that. For example, “I had fun last night ; )” sounds much better than “I had fun last night, if ya know what I mean”. It is fairly open to interpretation though- so be sure that the next time you use it, it’s with someone whose creativity in understanding will lead them to think you might want to have sex with them- which would hopefully lead to you having more sex (obviously everyone’s real goal in life). Don’t send a winky face to a minger- it’ll just give them false hope (unless that’s what you’re going for).
Here are some of the most popular emoticons:
😉 wink wink; I want to have sex with you; I only have one eye
:p sticking tongue out (not sure for what purpose)
😀 excited ; very happy