The very nature of communicating on the Internet allows people to express thoughts and feelings with an openness and frankness unusual in face to face or phone conversations. The trouble is that on-line conversations are really a cross between a letter and a phone call. The potential for misunderstandings, without the tone and expression of a voice, or signals given out by body language, are considerable. Email, newsgroups, Facebook, MSN – all rely on the written word – and the written word is so easy to misinterpret (ask lawyer$!).
As a result of this, a shorthand version of expressing moods has emerged on the Net and together with certain behavioural rules form netiquette. Originally the shorthand for moods uses standard (QWERTY) keyboard symbols and they are known as emoticons aka ‘smileys’. In recent years as computing and network power has increased these have become pictures, although we still think the originals have a certain charm :-)
There seems to be a never ending supply of these, and they can get rather irritating at times. Applied properly, however, they serve a useful purpose.
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