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An Ode To The Emoticon

An Ode To The Emoticon

4 mins 16.7K 4 mins 16.7K

O exalted savior of our times!

You are the sole redeemer of anguished souls!

You help in ensuring our conversations prolong endlessly!

We cannot express our gratitude in words (hence we take your help!)!

We take refuge in Thee!


Indeed, the emoticon has suddenly turned out to be the Holy Grail of communication of our times. It is truly the unifying force which cuts across age, sex, race, caste or creed. The only eligibility criteria is to possess a mobile handset (the bigger and smarter the better) and the Only product of the company (then) valued at USD 19 billion.

It manifests itself in various avatars. We will attempt to understand the three main avatars.

1) Conversation starter: The mere sight of a stand-alone emoticon instigates us to reply back. What does the sender wish to convey? Is it a philosophical question on a quest to understand the mysteries of life? Does it represent the sender’s present state of mind? Are we expected to reply back? If so, what should our response be? Especially since, we have not yet understood the question. In our attempt to satiate the sender’s thirst for intelligent (!?) conversation we may inadvertently end up confusing the sender as well as ourselves since the original sender also has the onerous task of decoding our reply and providing a response. In the end, the original message might turn out to be the mere click of a key by an innocent one-year old kid who was trying to play with its latest play thing.

2) Conversation filler: In case the conversation does turn out to be consisting of phrases and sentences, an interminably long session could induce ennui and lethargy in the participants. Here is where our saviour steps in. Like a chivalrous person stepping in to save a damsel in distress, the emoticon helps us to further prolong the moribund conversation. Since neither of the protagonists understands the response of the other person, each one tries to make sense of the image on the screen and some innate primal force pushes out a response. It is in this avatar that the emoticon reaches its zenith. This is the ‘Poorna Avatar’ of the emoticon.

3) End of the conversation: This avatar is a slightly confusing one and only veterans can claim to be masters in its use. If the first smile is responded with another smile then what should be the proper response to this? The jury is still out on the verdict of what is an ideal emoticon to end the conversation. (Amateurs, the ‘Thank you’ emoticon is the wrong answer. We will understand this when we discuss the three laws of emoticonology.)

Like all matured disciplines in science the science of study of emoticons also has its own set of laws. Experts will notice an uncanny resemblance to the Laws of motion expounded by Sir Isaac Newton.

These are -

1) First law of Emoticonology : Every conversation continues to exchange emoticons unless acted on by an unknown external force compelling one user to use a phrase or sentence.

2) Second Law of Emoticonology: The force (or intensity) of the conversation is directly proportional to the number of emoticons used. The more varied the emoticons the better.

3) Third Law of Emoticonology: Every emoticon has to be responded with an equal or more powerful emoticon. For e.g. the response to ‘one smile’ has to be one or more smiles. There are exceptions to this rule and these form part of the curriculum of the advanced course in emoticonology. For e.g. How do you respond to a frown? Do you sympathize with a ‘chill yourself’ emoticon? Or, do you convey a message to ‘go get up and solve it’ emoticon? God help the amateurs who fail to understand these complexities and respond back with another frown, or worse, with 2-3 frowns. Every user is advised to undertake this study so that they can be proficient in its use and avoid such mishaps.

Gathering a good understanding of these three laws will ensure that your conversations do not get bogged down and you emerge as a Supreme Shining Star who will deliver this world from its teeming misery of ungrammatical sentences, litany of spelling errors and worst of all the sheer tediousness of putting your thoughts into words.


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