The emoticon is 35! These 35 still say more than emojis

Don't :- ( It's time to celebrate the emoticon's birthday by remembering the simpler days when all smileys were sideways.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
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Eric Mack
4 min read

Emoticons might seem old-school today, but they're technically millennial. The digital practice of using symbols and characters to create images was born 35 years ago, on Sept. 19, 1982. On that day, Carnegie Mellon computer scientist Scott Fahlman proposed using a :- ) to indicate a joke on message board posts and a :- ( to mark things that are not jokes.  

If the reviews of "The Emoji Movie" are any indication, perhaps it's time we went back to the simpler days before we could respond to a message with a tiny animated cat or put a ridiculous cat filter over our selfies. It seems hard to believe, but before emojis and cats ruled, emoticons were the way to add a little visual sizzle to your messaging game.


There was a time before emojis were everywhere.


Of course, it's safe to say the current emoji craze owes its very existence to the emoticons that inspired it. So for just one day, in honor of the emoticon's 35th birthday, quit scrolling through that endless emoji keyboard and instead use one of these 35 more advanced emoticons to communicate not only what you want to say, but also show that you are the ultimate retro digital hipster.

1. Start off any day, especially a birthday, by sending a smile, whether it's a basic :), a bug-eyed 8-) or a symbol that shows off your good side :^)

2. If you're feeling too sick to type or tap, let your friends know with a simple :‑###.. 

3. If they ask why, it's OK to admit that you #‑) (partied all night).

4. Heck you might even still be a little bit %‑) (drunk).

5. If they respond with a >;) to call you out for being a little devilish,

6. hit them back with a :$ to make it clear you're embarrassed about last night's excesses.

7. If they're good friends, they'll assure you with a :‑X their lips are sealed. 

8. This is not to be confused with having braces  :‑#

9. Although the drunk emoticon is also sometimes read as meaning confused %‑) 

10. That kind of an emoticon miscommunication can leave you feeling like a <:‑| (dunce).

11. But as this is 2017, who really knows what a dunce is anymore? Better to acknowledge your emoticon incompetence with some more advanced characters, like Homer Simpson: ~(_8^(I) 

12. This display of emoji prowess is sure to make your friends *\0/* (cheer).


Stand out from the crowd with classic emoticons.


13. In fact, you should probably expect a high five like o/\o 

14. or >_>^ ^<_< 

15. or from your lazy friends, just a ^5 

16. Of course, this is when your friend ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Lenny might finally respond to the thread to one-up everyone with his trademark smirk.

17. That guy thinks he's so nerd-chic-hip incorporating unicode characters and turning his emoticon faces upright! Show him you aren't intimidated by firing back an epic cool shruggie like  ̿̿ ̿̿ ̿̿ ̿'̿'\̵͇̿̿\з= ( ▀ ͜͞ʖ▀) =ε/̵͇̿̿/'̿'̿ ̿ ̿̿ ̿̿ ̿̿

18. Uh-oh, now that non-Latin characters are involved it's a full on emoticon battle and Lenny is quick to throw the first ●~* 

19. One of your friends lets you know she wants nothing to do with this by tuning out ((d[-_-]b)) 

20. Meanwhile Lenny escalates things with a shocking move to the table:

21. Wait, you think, are those Chinese characters? Rather than call him out for cheating, you simply send a cool, collected (~_~メ) 

22. Your less emoticonally talented friends express their disapproval:

23. Your best friend concurs with a simple (-‸ლ) (face palm).

24. The most diplomatic friend in the group attempts to implore all sides to Imagine all people living life in peace with a //0‑0\\

25. But not even John Lennon can stop Lenny's rage of complex characters all over the thread. He sends a \(◎o◎)/! 

26. Which you don't really know how to interpret so you respond by blowing a kiss in jest like (*^3^)/~☆ 

27. Your other friend takes off her headphones and instead lights up a cigarette for a (-.-)y-°°° 

28. Just as things are getting tense, someone drops a (V)o¥o(V) into the thread

29. And your bestie is like: "Is that an alien? Or a (=^··^=)  

30. You were expecting cats would eventually work their way into the conversation and you can't help but (✿◠‿◠) 

31. Now, Lenny is like (~_~;) 

32. And you tell him not to sweat it with a (^_-)-☆

33. The two of you make a plan for a cup of _旦~~ 

34. And agree to meet at the new sushi place that has the freshest ><(((*> 

35. Then everyone signs off and wishes emoticons everywhere a happy birthday with a basic :-)

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