Tuesday Debate: What is the Best Emoticon

By Ingrid and Jake

When one wants to show emotion, in the otherwise emotionally dead and cold world of instant messaging and texting, one needs to turn no further than the emoticon. Created by a person of great emotional depth who could not simply convey their feeling through the written word. Whether you are happy, sad, angry or have hearts for eyes, as long as you have the emotion there is a brief character representation for it. We are here to choose which emoticon is the greatest, therefore essentially picking which emotion is the best.

Ingrid: The main reason most people socialize on the Internet is so they can pretend to be someone they’re not -- this is a well known and uncontestable fact. Middle-aged househusbands with beer gut and acne scars pretend to be sexy sorority girls. D&D nerds who don't know how to relate to others pretend to be D&D nerds who DO know how to relate to others. My 59-year-old mother pretends to be my 53-year-old mother. In fact, the only person in the history of the Internet who has ever represented themselves 100% accurately online is notorious German cannibal Armin Miewes. A few years back, Miewes signed into online chat rooms and presented himself as a creepster who wanted to eat another man’s flesh, and guess what? He really DID want to eat another man’s flesh. It may not have been an admirable persona, but at least he was honest. Unlike Miewes, I am among the ranks of people who hide behind the ambiguity of purely text-based relationships to become someone I am not. IRL, I am a super awkward person who cannot make eye contact while speaking...and that is why the sunglasses emoticon is my favorite. B-) It is an extremely versatile symbol. When I use the sunglasses emoticon, I am able to shed the awkward personality that god has given to me and become suave and charismatic, like Jack Nicholson, Roy Orbison, Ray Charles, or any number of other sunglass-wearing celebrity.

Jake: When I sit down in my bedroom on a hot summer night with a Garfield notebook to write about emotions, the first one that springs to mind is always sadness or sorrow. Sadness is the rawest and darkest emotion. It can lead to a self-inflicted death (called a 'suicide') or listening to Dashboard Confessional. :-( are the three characters that make up the representation for feeling as if you're being engulfed in an ever-growing gloom and your heart is being shredded by that one paper shredder at work that is always jamming.

When I'm chatting with my friends online, this ":-(" is the emoticon that I find myself always revisiting. I also occasionally use the polar opposite, which is the happy emoticon ":-)". The happy emoticon just seems like it's hiding something. Behind those tiny beady eyes lies a deep intriguing secret, the smile is merely the cover-up. You might say you're happy about your friend getting a new job or that your step sister is getting married for the third time, but only because don't know what else to say. Nobody ever says they're sad when they aren't. They say they are happy when they're sad in order to get their spouse to stop asking them if something is wrong every three minutes. :-( is the most real emoticon. Doesn't B-) look like somebody who needs to hide behind a pair of "shades" in order to conceal their own insecurities? I say yes.

Ingrid: Something that is wrong with youth culture today is we feel like everything has to be black and white. And that is also what is wrong with the smiley face and its counterpart, the frowny: they are only able to address one emotion or the other. Happy, sad. Agree, disagree. Yes, no. The wonderful thing about the sunglasses emoticon is that it imbues everything you say with a sense of mystery and vagueness. Your stepsister’s getting married for the third time and you don’t know what to say to her? Slap her with a B-). She can interpret it however she wants, which in this case is as your wholehearted approval and support. Your spouse won't stop asking you what's wrong? B-) Adorable and flirty! Suddenly they are reminded of why they fell in love with you all those years ago, and they stop wondering what's wrong with you and go back to ignoring you and letting you do your crosswords, which is basically what you wanted in the first place. Your significant other pops up on G-chat and asks if you cheated on them with the next door neighbors' teenaged daughter? Give 'em the shades: B-) I don't know, did I? You tell me, baby. If the point of having an online presence is to be dishonest and hide your true self, which I'm arguing it is, then the sunglasses emoticon is the perfect solution for all interpersonal interactions.

Jake: While B-) does convey two emotions (being happy and having sunglasses) it cannot be used in every situation. Take into consideration this scenerio: you're sad because you lost your sunglasses. What is the perfect response to that situation? This is: :-(. While Ingrid may live her online life pretending to be cool and lying about her feelings through text representations, I do not. I'm open and honest about my suicidal feelings (":-("), my sadness (":-(") and my feelings of emptyness (";-(") or whatever non-sad emotion I might fleetingly be feeling. You're not going to put on a fresh pair of shades when you want to stick your head in the oven. You're going to slap a frown on your face and crawl toward the oven. Sunglasses are not a true emotion, therefore the emoticon was made under false pretenses. I would call for this debate to be forefeitted right now, but I'm bigger than that. Hopefully you'll consider that before the next time you feign being cool on the internet or on your cellular telephone.

Ingrid: I would agree to a forfeit, but only because it was revealed to me in a side chat that Jake is totally stoned, and I happen to be a little tipsy right now. We are probably both unfit to debate such a grave and controversial topic. Jake says that the sunglasses emoticon doesn't even qualify for this debate, but I would like to point out that the title of this debate is "What is the Best EMOTICON?" not "What is the Best EMOTION" or even "What Does Jake Wear When He Makes His Daily Suicide Attempt." I will close my argument by saying that, if the sunglasses emoticon had been invented way back in 1982 like the smiley and frowny emoticons were (See this for proof), my parents never would've gotten divorced, I never would've failed out of high school, and Jimmy would still be talking to me. The cool reserve of the sunglasses would've prevented all of it. Are Jack Nicholson's parents divorced? Probably not, and I know for a fact that he talked to Jimmy as recently as last week. Take it from a sunglass-clad celebrity like JN: there are some situations that a mere smile or frown will not get you out of, and those situations call for a B-).

Jake: I may have smoked a joint (marijuana cigarette) dipped in formaldehyde tonight, but that makes no difference when it comes to my choice in emoticons. I know better than anybody what this debate's title is, because I titled it (and I would say very aptly). I will stand by my claims. The sad faced emoticon is the kind of person you want to hug and tell them that it's all going to be all right, even when you know it isn't. That little guy wears its emotions on its sleeves. I think we can learn a lot from out little friend. What can we learn from the sunglasses emoticon? Maybe some fashion advice. Let's all meditate on that.


  1. what the heck?! i thought this one would be super controversial. we talked about everything from cannibalism to suicide to cheating with teenaged neighbors, and yet no one even commented. i can only imagine readers are stunned into silence by our impeccable (and completely sober) rhetorical skills.

    if it makes you feel any better, jake, i feel like this is the most successful debate you and i have had yet.

  2. Kaleena will comment on it when she reads it. Kaleena comments on everything because she's great.

  3. i like to think of myself as bernd jurgen brandes--still looking for my armin. naturally, as a teen, my favorite emoticon is ":-P." although ":-o" - regardless of its context - makes me LOL most of the time.

  4. Maddie, I have always been a fan of :-x but Gmail has ruined it by making it hearts for eyes. F that.


    And also that Ingrid won. I'm sorry Jake, I'm sad a lot and all, but Ingrid really found a way to embodied online communication with one super cool symbol and she pleaded her case well, even for an alchie.

    <3 = my favorite emoticon... because sometimes you can't say it out loud.

    i've never won anything in my life! i would gloat but i don't want to destroy jake's and my already fragile internet friendship.

    <3 is good when it animates, but when it is just the symbol i always see it as a headless naked woman's boobs.