December 13, 2012

The shooter's last text message ended with a sad face emoticon.

One more bit of evidence of what expression in the form of emoticon really means.
"Jake was never the violent type. He didn't go out of his way to try to hurt people or upset people. His main goal was to make you laugh, smile, make you feel comfortable. I never would have guessed him to do anything like this ever," she said....

The last time she saw him, which was last week... "I just talked to him, stayed the night with him, and he just seemed numb if anything. He's usually very bubbly and happy, and I asked him why, what had changed, and said 'nothing.'..."

Sansburn said the last message she sent Roberts was a text, asking him to stay, and saying she didn't want him to leave. He replied "I'm sorry," with a sad face emoticon.
Emoticons are used to manage the emotions of the recipient. They don't reveal what they purport to reveal — the writer's emotion — and should be viewed with suspicion.

34 comments:

MikeR said...

Well, I do that with facial expressions as well. I am trying to communicate, that is, to give the impression I want to the listener. Emoticons are supposed to solve the problem that the reader can't see my face, and I am limited in my abilities to communicate unambiguously with words.

- the reader often cannot tell. Especially with my jokes.

Palladian said...

>:o

Mitchell the Bat said...

Cats have fewer facial expressions than dogs, is my experience.

Shouting Thomas said...

I'm surprised at how willing people are to do TV interviews.

Doesn't anybody ever say... "Leave me alone!" and slam the door?

If I were either of the two women involved in this story, that's what I would have done.

Doesn't seem to me like a positive form of personal PR.

rhhardin said...

Caesar crossing the emoticon :-(

Ann Althouse said...

"Well, I do that with facial expressions as well. I am trying to communicate, that is, to give the impression I want to the listener."

Interesting in light of the ex-girlfriend's assertion that his main goal was to make you laugh and smile. (Calls to mind The Joker.)

wyo sis said...

"Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of man? The shadow knows"
Wyo sis filling your cliche needs since 2011!

Freeman Hunt said...

Emoticons are important. If you're a woman writing a friendly note, and your writing comes off as mannish, you add in ":)", and voila! It's all girlfriend-ed up.

Freeman Hunt said...

Or, if you tend to be terse when you type or text, you can put an emoticon at the end of an email to keep it from coming off as brusque.

"Hey! Are we meeting for coffee at two?"
"Yes. :)"

Alternatives to the emoticon:
"Yay!"
"Hooray!"
"Can't wait!"
Etc.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Emoticons are used to manage the emotions of the recipient. They don't reveal what they purport to reveal — the writer's emotion — and should be viewed with suspicion.

I think the above should have been preceded by an "In my opinion . . . ", because, imo, what you wrote is nowhere near universally agreed, as a flat assertion would imply. There is often a huge component of the SENDERs intention in an emoticon, as has been my experience.

Freeman Hunt said...

Are emoticons used exclusively to communicate with women? Do men ever use emoticons with each other? I'm on a group email list where I am the only woman, and I have never seen man to man emoticon usage, only woman to woman or man to woman.

Shouting Thomas said...

Yes, men use emoticons, but sparingly.

Usually, when they're trying to soften the blow and avoid a fight.

Rocketeer said...

Speaking only for myself, Freeman, I have never used an emoticon when addressing another man. I have used them with women.

I hadn't really though about it until your question. Could it be that men don't want to come across like a twelve-year-old girl to other men, making use of emoticons unacceptable, and that they subconsciously view all women as twelve-year-old girls, making it okay? ;)

edutcher said...

He was such a nice guy, a quiet guy.

They're the ones who always explode, it seems.

Rocketeer said...

Wow, that emoticon didn't come across like I meant it, as I don't view you as a twelve-year-old either consciously or subconsciously, Freeman.

So, emoticons suck, and I hereby forswear their use with anyone.

Freeman Hunt said...

Ha ha, Rocketeer. Or is it :D?

Or a woman could take it wrong on purpose and go :O or :( or >:| or :{ or :[. So many shades of emoticon.

Ever communicated with someone via text who used an extensive emoticon vocabulary? When that happens, it's always a man.

madAsHell said...

and your writing comes off as mannish

mannish!?! Muddy Waters much?

Can you explain man-ish writing?

I'm a male. I only use emoticons when I fear my sarcasm might be misconstrued.

Methadras said...

Oh they are never violent, until they become killers. I'm so sick of hearing that.

edutcher said...

IIRC, the only guy around here who loves emoticons is our own little shilol.

DADvocate said...

Emoticons are used to manage the emotions of the recipient.

Very true. I hate emoticons. I always get a smiley face when someone else fucks things ups and makes my job more difficult or pure hell. Emoticons should be outlawed in the workplace.

Lem said...

I used to use ;) emoticon a lot, to express what I believed had multiple meanings, complexity... I used to think complexity was smart or something... and then I read rh and emoticons seem superfluous ;)

John Evans said...

The only emoticon I use. |||||||||||||||||..||||||||||||||||||

Lem said...

Freeman your avatar overshadows any emoticon you might use.

Sam L. said...

I'm quiet, and mostly keep to myself, so I'm an obvious threat to society.

Even worse, I don't do emoticons.

Rocketeer said...

Can you explain man-ish writing?

Laconic.

Rocketeer said...

Ever communicated with someone via text who used an extensive emoticon vocabulary? When that happens, it's always a man.

I've never had that experience when texting other men. But of course your experience would be different than mine. You're a woman!

Freeman Hunt said...

"Can you explain man-ish writing?"

Laconic.


Yes.

Freeman Hunt said...

Or:

Yes. :)

It's like a textual sex change operation.

Or not. That looks more like a man writing to a woman.

So then it can take writing from mannish to friendly mannish. Perhaps more solicitous than friendly.

Rocketeer said...

While typing "Laconic," I fat-fingered "Lactonic." Which is more woman-ish writing.

mojavehicular said...

Emoticonfession

I'm :-] ever so painfully shy, -_- you see,
Yet my inner :-| resolve is >:) unshaken.
I usually *.* know just what :-\ to write,
But (:-o trouble :-p over how it is taken.
In -_* a quest for |:-{- comprehensibility,
I resort *>* to annoying :-[] punctuation.

Patrick said...

Emoticons can be important because much of communication is non-verbal, e.g. facial expressions, which are not available in writing.

Or, I suppose the alternative would be to improve your writing.

leslyn said...

My emoticons express my emotions, no one elses: *\0/*

Nomennovum said...

Great post!

8=====D~~~~

PJ said...

Professor, you poked me with a sharp stick years ago for using a few emoticons in the course of a comment exchange, and I couldn't figure out what set you off. So you thought I was trying to manage your emotions? And not in a straightforward way, with whole big florid words, but with those crude little suggestions of people making faces? I see now how boorish my behavior was . . .