():_:_:_:_:)_______________)~~Happy 30th B-day, Emoticons!~~~~ <$80P

Somebody better figure out how to give emoticons a receding hairline and a beer gut.

Fans of poorly constructed sideways faces have reason to celebrate today, as the emoticon, a portmanteau of the words “emotion” and “icon,” says goodbye to its roaring 20’s and ebbs closer to buying a sports car. Created in a Carnegie Mellon University chatroom on September 19th, 1982 at exactly 11:44am (Jesus, how convenient is it to have the exact time? God bless technology), the emoticon breathed into existence when creator Scott Fahlman dared to answer the question: How do we know when someone on the Internet is joking? Amazingly, the transcript of that moment actually survives today.

The emoticon, which quickly caught on with prepubescent girls everywhere, was the precursor to digital speak phrases such as LOL (Laugh Out Loud), ROFL (Rolling On the Floor, Laughing) and WAIWTSAA (Why Am I Writing This Stupid Ass Article?).

Though whiners and assholes assert that the simple text technique of aligning a combination of letters and punctuation to denote phrases has been in use since the invention of Morse code, there is no debating that good ol’ Scott Fahlman was the first to put a digital face to his emotions.

Emoticon technology has updated considerably since the early days, and now there are actual programmed screen images, also called emoticons, that one can deploy to indicate a variety of moods. These “new emoticons” are perhaps a metaphor for the entire Digital Age though, as they are technically more sophisticated, but still lack the warmth and heart of trying to figure out what the hell someone just sent you.

It will be interesting to see where emoticons go in the next 30 years (will we even have faces then, or will technology have evolved us into formless beams of pure energy?). The possibility for creation seems limitless. I remember my initial insight into the power of the emoticon came back in the early 90’s when, as a kid, I saw my first set of emoticon boobs:

(o)(O)

They were a little lopsided, but I didn’t give a damn. After that, I knew anything was possible.