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I have this weird fascination with smileys. After yesterday’s discussion of LOL and other annoying and increasingly prevalent effects of textspeak, this makes me wince, because a smiley isn’t much more than a visual version of LOL, and gods know it’s used as much or more… but there it is.

I think the smiley is kind of awesome.

This is doubtless a byproduct of being so active on a forum: you don’t have time to type in everything you mean (or you know nobody would read much past the 2nd paragraph), so you put in a cheering, dancing, or banging-its-head-on-the-keyboard type smiley to add the perfect ambiance to your post. Beautiful. No need to say “and it made me feel like XXXXX” or “I’m so XXXX right now” or “and I mean that in a sarcastic way”: just paste in the appropriate little yellow circle with eyes and go. Succinct. Pithy. Often interesting to watch, since some of those smileys get drunk and fall over, have sex with each other, or eat a whole cake.

There’s even bellydancing smileys, S&M smileys, snorting-coke smileys, star wars smileys — you name it, and someone somewhere out there has probably written code for it.

I know I should find them annoying. They have the same effect as LOL: removing the need for accurate communication. Now you just throw in the image that best covers what you think/how you feel and skip the laborious task of picking the right words. A picture is worth – well, I don’t really believe that – I can’t, or am I ever in the wrong business –Β  but here I am buying into the notion wholeheartedly anyway.

I admit it: I like them. I think they’re fun.

Just don’t ask me to explain why.Β