I think I hate net speak.
Text emoticons. Reductionist acronyms. Lazy abbreviations. Smiley faces. I want to kill them all.
Or should that be slash slash backslash them right up their colons?
It all started innocently enough. I myself tried my first ‘FYI’ back at University, but I definitely didn’t inhale.
But then people started turning to harder and harder to decipher abbreviations. The TMI’s. The IMHO’s.
Before long, the keyboard icons arrived. A :/ here. A ;-( there.
And then the vapid expressions of the smiling yellow face, once the iconic symbol of rave culture, now reduced to turning tricks because people can’t be bothered typing out actual words.
Venture into any parenting chat room nowadays and entire conversations are being conducted through them.
Baby not sleeping through night? Confused face – crying face – tired face – pillow over face.
But it’s okay because someone who claims to empathise (but who actually came here to leave thinly veiled gloats about how quickly they’ve managed to shed their baby weight) will genuinely and earnestly help you in your plight – by leaving you an emoticon of a turd weeping.
Some people reading will have various arguments as to why internet speak is a GOOD THING and how it helps to CONVEY MEANING and how it SAVES TIME. So allow me to take your points and systematically disagree with them.
Internet Speak Saves Valuable Time
Let’s say it really did save time, right? And let’s say we used that time to improve the world in some way. Well then I’d be emoticon-ing the hell out of the written word and actively encouraging others to do the same.
But we’re not. We’re using it to look at kitten memes on Tumblr or YouTube videos of a chimpanzee falling out of a tree after smelling its own arse.
We’ve Always Used Symbols To Convey Complex Emotional Constructs. Just Look At Cave Paintings
First off, I’ve seen cave paintings. The most complex emotional idea they appear to convey is ‘me man kill bull’. I have never seen a cave painting that says ‘bull got away – sad face’.
Also prehistoric man did not have access to PC’s and QWERTY keyboards.
If you had to spend hours crushing up cockroaches to make paint, or catching a wild stallion to make a brush out of its tail, you could be forgiven for not wanting to write out ‘rolling around on cave floor laughing my primitive ass off’ in full.
Emoticons Help To Ensure Your Meaning Is Clear
They never had ‘em back in Jane Austen’s day, and that was when you could express your intention to knob someone entirely by calling card.
If anything, I’d argue that foreshortening of words and the use of acronyms can lead to loss of meaning and INCREASE the risk of misinterpretation.
What if the victim of Armin Meiwes, the guy who killed and ate someone he’d found on the Internet, was sat watching his penis being cooked thinking: ‘Ohhhhh. So WLTM a M W GSOH actually means would like to murder a man whilst gobbling some of him nowadays. Who knew?’
And what of those who assume that the judicial application of a winking face after some abusive remark makes it knowingly ironic, rather than just plain offensive? Or ‘the Gervaisicons’ as I like to call them.
You Can’t Stop The Tide Of Progress
Whilst ‘researching’ this piece, I found a site called Sherv.net.
I quote it verbatim: “This emoticon shows an absolutely HUGE piece of shit! We’re not joking, come check it out. You won’t be disappointed!”
So if by progress you mean living in a world where entire corners of the web have been devoted to animated gifs of massive excrements, then yes, I guess we’ve come a long way since first crawling out of the primordial soup all those millions of years ago.
What About That Quote – ‘A Picture Paints A Thousand Words’?
A proper picture will invariably be richer and more descriptive of something than words can ever be, but what text symbols and yellow faces can genuinely convey is actually very limited.
Where’s the emoticon that says ‘I’m ambivalent’. Or ‘it’s not that I don’t love you, I just can’t be bothered making you a cup of tea’.
Or a face that sums up the bittersweet emotion of finding you’ve been given the best present ever for Christmas, but not the batteries required to power it?
Nowhere. That’s where.
Language Changes. This Is Just The Latest In Its Evolution
I agree language must evolve. But netspeak is effectively a different language.
It isn’t even grounded in how we actually communicate. I know people who if they LOL’d as much in real life as they did online, they’d have been sectioned by now.
And where will it end?
By the time our children reach adulthood, will human language be reduced to a series of symbols and strokes on our Apple EmotiPads linked to our cerebral cortexes and shown to one another via 3d projections from our sphincters?
No, future, no!
And so I implore you.
Let us reclaim words. Even the longs ones with lots of syllables that we’re not entirely sure how to spell.
Let us communicate like humans, not robots.
Let us forge a brave new world that’s a bit like the one we had about ten years ago before netspeak came along.
Or maybe I should just STFU and try and get a SOH about the whole thing?