Friday, December 7, 2012

Careful with those winky faces: some notes on friendliness

Our era of pervasive (invasive?) technology, constant texting, and social media has changed the way people interact. Don't believe me? Check out articles here, here, and here. Whatever your thoughts on the matter, technology is here to stay (and grow), and the way we communicate is adapting along with it.

For instance, let's take texting. Have you ever tried to explain texting etiquette to your father, a man who could barely be bothered to TURN ON his phone and yet has recently purchased a smartphone?

My text: "Dad, you have to add some more punctuation to your texts...otherwise you sound detached, like a robot ;) "
Dad's text: "Beep"

Thanks, Dad. You're hilarious.

Smiley faces, winky faces, sunglass faces, evil grin faces...they are powerful little emoticons that can help soften your messages, adding color to something that could otherwise be very flat and impersonal. They can also convey things that words simply cannot. Just ask anyone who's ever flirted via text. Ahem, don't ask me; in case this isn't abundantly clear from earlier posts, I'm kind of awkward.

However! Be careful with thy winky faces! For with great power comes great responsibility: you may think you're being friendly, chill, and awesome [Drinks after work? 6? ;) ], but text messaging has an amazing capacity to be misunderstood. It lacks TONE. Maybe someone's response [Sure] is short and curt because you smell and are clingy and they actually don't want to get together for drinks. OR maybe the office is busy and he/she just can't think beyond the next 10 minutes.

Texts can also be misunderstood in the other direction. Say, for instance, you're harmlessly chatting with the cute desk manager at your gym. He happens to have experience in your desired career. You exchange numbers and start texting, arranging a time to meet up and talk about that career further. Then he sends this: "I hope business isn't the only reason you come to the gym. :D"

Oh my.

You don't want to give him the wrong impression. You have a boyfriend after all. (Readers, it should be noted that this is not my story.) So you gulp and, being both sensible and sensitive, send back, "Hey, hate to do this over text, but I actually have a bf. Always interested in meeting a new friend tho!"

He returns, quickly: "lol thats not what i meant but i could see how it would come off that way. i actually have a girl myself."

You: "Oh awesome. I'm gonna go die of embarrassment now."

Take-away lesson here: Be care with thy winky faces, people. Be careful with thy winky faces.

Editor's note: Texts have been changed to reflect some norms of punctuation, in order to make content accessible to those not familiar with texting jargon. Aka, my parents. Love you guys! 

1 comment:

  1. I never thought of it that way.. Very interesting! LIKE


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