Hey, y’all, it’s Mary Kate here! Normally, emoticons in any kind of professional writing makes my heart hurt but, today, we’re embracing the emoji because the PBS Digital Studios channel, PBS OffBook, has brought them into a new light.
As a college student and member of the millennial generation I myself use emoticons frequently enough that they have almost taken the place of punctuation in my texts. Need a comma? Use a smiley face. Need a period? Smiley face that thing. Trying to friend zone that guy that likes you? Use 12 smiley faces.
The PBS Offbook video “Are Emoticons the Future of Language?” explores the history of emoticons and their application in the future. Apparently, the Russian-American writer Vladimir Nabokov (author of the book “Lolita” for all you bookworms out there) thought that some kind of symbol was highly necessary in writing to convey the less serious moments of writing better.
So, even back in the 1950s, the seed of emoticons was planted. With the rise in web culture throughout the 90s and into the early 2000s, the culture of emoticons exploded and has only gone up from there. Recently, the Library of Congress even acquired a book that was a copy of “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville translated entirely into emojis. If that isn’t dedication to the future of emoticons, I don’t know what is!
Want to keep exploring the emoji world? Check out the PBS Offbook emoticon video and the PBS Digital Studios channel PBS OffBook for more off-the-wall topics like the rise of the Steampunk movement, how Twitter is affecting journalism or how Cosplay changes lives.
Mary Kate Mansfield is a senior at the University of Central Arkansas working toward a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Journalism and will graduate in December of 2017. She is also the editor of the UCA yearbook “The Scroll” and an intern for AETN’s Marketing and Outreach department.