Facebook covers all of your basic emoticon needs, but what about your future emoticon needs?
Facebook users have a problem. Most of them are practically illiterate, usually by choice, but they experience feelings and want to talk to their friends about them. Luckily, Facebook has a range of emoticons to choose from.
They have :), for when you are feeling happy,
:( for when you are feeling sad,
:\ for when you are feeling, uh, something,
B-) for when you are feeling cool,
a :V for when you feel like referencing that for some stupid reason (this never happens),
:P for when you are feeling cheeky,
and even a (^^^) for when you are feeling shark.
Seriously, the shark is easier to work into conversation than the Pac-Man. If you use that continuously, there may be something wrong with you.
Emoticons and Communication
Emoticons were originally developed to help differentiate between what was and what wasn't a joke, in the hopes that this would make internet people less angry. Sadly, that goal has never successfully been achieved.
As new emoticons started to hit the market, however, the internet realized, after some experimentation, that each emoticon could be used in several different situations with several shades of meaning, which pretty much rendered half of the emoticons useless and half of them stupid things like a crude rendering of the video game character Kirby raping himself and an ASCII goatse, which several people were quite confused to discover was an emotion.
Speaking of discovering unusual emotions, that's another problem with emoticons. Just what exactly are the basic emotions? And what about emotions that we don't think about a lot? And what about emotions that we might, as a species, develop or recognize in the future?
That's actually already happened. Hell, Roger Ebert's even written about it. Researchers have announced the existence of an emotion called "Elevation", which they essentially defined as the emotion you feel when watching Barack Obama give a speech. You could think of it as the state of being inspired, except that's not exactly right, or you could think of it as the state of being satisfied, but that's not exactly right, either.
You know that feeling you got at the end of The Return of the King, at the part you teared up at? Don't even pretend that you don't know which part we're talking about. That feeling you got was pretty much Elevation.
At any rate, it will be very hard to make an emoticon for it, since it doesn't actually have a recognized facial expression.
But there's also a lack of emoticons for emotions that already exist and are just not thought about very often. And how are Facebook's users supposed to communicate that they are feeling philosophical if there isn't an emoticon for it?
For example, take curiosity. It's probably the most-experienced emotion among internet users, but Facebook has no emoticon for it. We're very interested in why this is.