I used to hate emoticons. They struck me as lazy. They are the digital equivalent of saying something is “nice” or “interesting.” They are the effortless filler to diffuse a tense situation, to perform approval without expressing any investment, to imply interest without attention. It was to me, no more than a digital knee jerk reaction to the mildest of stimulus. I subscribe to the power of language and the art of selecting the most appropriate word to convey meaning. In a world with such a plethora of words at our disposal, overflowing massive dictionaries with ever more conceived each year, surely, we can express ourselfs more eloquantly than semi-colons and parantheses.
Yet, in the absence of face to face communication, and with a speed defying any attempts at composition, emoticons bring rushed dispatches into focus. My former opinions, distilled to their essence, are the product of idealism and snobbery. They come from a presumption that people have the ubiquitous luxury of time for editing, a reader’s undivided and lengthy attention, and that writers forgo the effort of composition out of laziness.
No, emoticons grant a face and inflection to bring text in person. Moreover, no emoticon (to me) better expresses the contextual passion invoked in an emoticon so much as “(╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻”, representing “flipping the table” and an expression with which I had been blithely unacquainted. When a coworker used it in one of our exchanges, I was inspired:
[8/21/13 11:25:35 AM] Coworker: (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻
[8/21/13 11:25:52 AM] Me: Now that is some fine art
[8/21/13 11:25:55 AM] Coworker:
[8/21/13 11:25:59 AM] Me: hold on a sec…
[8/21/13 11:26:04 AM] Me: I just had a vision
[8/21/13 11:26:08 AM] Coworker: AHHA
[8/21/13 11:26:12 AM] Me: I’m quitting today
[8/21/13 11:26:29 AM] Me: and going to go full into rendering this on a massive canvas
I didn’t quit my day job. But I did have to paint it. We were so frustrated. It was so apt. I was compelled.
It had to be painted in oils. I cannot conceive of a medium more eloquently appropriate. If I was to express the passions that they possessed and imbue the poetry that I found in them, I had to invoke that classic material. I am, after all, a student of communications: “The medium is the message.”
So, I decided to teach myself to paint oils, which I announced to my boyfriend. You may have already read about what followed in The Red Herring.
Then I painted eMotions.