The survey is closed, the results are in, and my conclusions confirm my hypothesis: many of the most commonly used emoticons have very different meanings to different people. I’m not anti-emoticon. I’m just pro-lucidity. And there’s some pretty non-lucid stuff going on in the realm of emoticons.
First off, let’s answer at least one thing conclusively:
97.5% of respondents said that smileys should face right : ) while only 2.5% of respondents said they should face left ( :
In conclusion: people who face your smileys to the left: STOP IT.
Okay, moving on to some specifics.
First, 96.7% of respondents agreed that the : ) conveys a positive emotion, but they could not agree on which specific message: “I am happy” led the herd with 57%, but “I am trying to be funny” took 17% and “The sentence is silly (in a good way)” took 14%.
Conclusion: I can overlook this mixed messaging because it’s uniformly positive.
Second, the winky smile ; ) is also uniformly positive. But it’s interesting that only 2% of the respondents use it to mean “I am happy”. By far, it’s used to convey funniness (53.4%) or positive silliness (22%). But it’s also used in the more literal flirty kind of wink, meaning “I like you” 18% of the time.
Conclusion: I could overlook all the mixed positives for the : ) but I can’t overlook the whopping 18% of people who use a ; ) to convey their affection. Essentially, four out of five times someone is simply conveying funniness or silliness, but every fifth time they mean something COMPLETELY different. Still positive, but problematic.
Third, and most egregiously guilty, is : P also known as the tongue-sticking-out face. While mostly positive (funniness and positive silliness represent 71% of meanings), the other 29% is very negative: negative silliness, anger, confusion, and disgust.
Conclusion: People, get it together. Stop using stupid emoticons that people don’t understand. Or, if you insist on using the : P then create some kind of emoticon dictionary and preach your definitions to the world. Until then, I refuse to acknowledge the sticking-out tongue.
This is further exacerbated when I gave you an ambiguous sentence to put an emoticon after. For the sentence “Puppies are cute, but I’d rather have a kitten”, the same number of people used : ) as used : P . And a slightly greater number used ; ) .
Conclusion: WHAT DO YOU PEOPLE MEAN? Why does a kitten warrant a wink? Or a tongue sticking out?
Ultimate conclusion: In the end, all I can say is this: : P
*Note: I had to space my emoticons out (putting a space between the colon and the parentheses, for example) so that WordPress wouldn’t automatically re-format the emoticons to images.