the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Full of Emoticons


A couple of days ago I got into a little trouble with one of my readers because the person misinterpreted something I wrote as true.  This is not the first time this has happened.  Sometimes, I stretch the point, such as when I wrote that I "slept with Tom Cruise."  Still, there are times when I want to express something personal, and I don’t want you to dismiss it by saying, "Oh, he’s just joking around."  Why am I the only one having this problem?  And then I realized why.  Most of you use those smilies (emoticons) when making an ironic or sarcastic point.   How many times have I seen a comment written to me that reads something like this:

 "Neil, you suck. Your blog sucks.  Your mother is a moron.  Your penis is smaller than Jude Law’s.  I hate your guts."  emoticon

Oh, look — she used a smilie.  She is joking.  Ha ha ha.  I love my readers.

I’m not sure exactly why I never use smilies.  I have nothing against them.  It could be because when I was a young student, I actually used a typewriter rather than a computer (so there were no smilies yet).   (Does anyone out there remember typewriters?  Has anything become as outdated as quickly as the typewriter?  Does anyone else feel bad for the Smith-Corona company?  Will I one day tell my grandchild about using "Wite-out" and they will laugh in disbelief?  But that’s something for another post.)

Today, I have smilies on my mind.   That, and religion.  What has caused more problems in the world than religion?  Why are the three big Western religion — Judaism, Islam, and Christianity — always at each others throats?  Even within the religions, there are divisions, usually between between the ultra-religious and the moderates. 

And why? 

I think the reason is similar to the one I had with one of my readers — interpretation.  For thousands of years, men have been fighting over God’s word.  What did He mean?  Which is the true religion?  Each religion is always fighting over the interpretation of the Bible.   Thousands of years of tsuris (trouble in Yiddish), and for what? 

If only God had waited a little bit — only had been a little more patient before he released his Word — at least until the arrival of the Mac in 1984.  Then, he could have used smilies to clarify things for all of us —

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.   And God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.   emoticon

And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

And God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."  And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so.  And God called the firmament Heaven.    emoticon

And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

And God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so.  God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas.  And God saw that it was good.  And God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth."  And it was so.  The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind.  And God saw that it was good.    emoticon

And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.

And God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so.  And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also.  And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.     emoticon

And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens."  So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.   And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth."   emoticon

And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds." And it was so.   And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the ground according to its kind.  And God saw that it was good.   emoticon

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.   emoticon

And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."  And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.  And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food."  And it was so.   And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.    emoticon


  1. The Moviequill

    why don’t you take those smilies and shove them…(he wryly smirks preferring to use this form of embellishment)

  2. Megarita

    Perfection. I’ve actually dumped friends based on over-emoticonning. This is marvelous. It makes me forgive your unfortunate suggestion that I distribute condoms like Halloween candy. (growling threatening gesture)

  3. kate

    Fabulous post! I always use smilies and other stupid things in my blog. They’re kind of like my signatures now.

  4. bluepoppy

    Wait, Jude Law has a small penis? I don’t know if I have an emoticon for that.

  5. kristine

    that stuff still reads like agony, even with the smilies. GOD, G-D, GODDESS, etc. would have benefitted from some ENG101 courses. a little imagery, detail, character sketching…everyone would’ve been on the same page. friggin’ idiot.

  6. Leese

    Smileys are a big deal to me professionally. I’ve always used it as a gauge of my relationship with my clients. I would never use a smiley in my e-mail correspondence with new clients. I wait until they do it first, which indicates they are now comfortable enough to joke around with me. The ultimate measure, however, is when they start using the acronyms “LOL” when responding to my comments over e-mail. At that point I am 100% confident I will close the deal.

  7. Lauren

    Thank you Neil, I haven’t laughed that hard at a website in a long time.

  8. jamy

    You are wonderful. Want to be friends?

  9. Mik

    Great stuff. Reading the Bible would’ve been a lot more fun with Smileys (waits for lightening bolt).

    Don’t use much myself.

    I remember typewriters and Spectrum’s and Commodore 64’s.


  10. introspectre

    Heeeeeeelarious, Neil. I think the Bible could use some sound effects, too. That would be groovy.

    Cartoon style sound effects. And acted out by Bugs Bunny. That would be great.

    As far as the different variations of Christianity, that’s what turned me from the church. Crazy people, fighting about it. Argh.

  11. Jack

    This post made me 🙂

  12. Edgy Mama

    I don’t use smilies or emoticoms, either. I mean, come on, we’re writers. We’re supposed to be able to express ourselves with words.

    Yes, Neil, I also learned to type on a typewriter and went off to college with an electric Smith-Corona that had a ten character correction tape–it was the height of technology!

    I can’t even comment on the religious outburst, except to say, as usual, you have me laughing (another thing I avoid–acronyms–that’s another post for you to tackle).

  13. Jason W.

    That is fucked up. 😉

  14. Melliferous

    If only God had held out for the emoticons, just think of all the people he could have reached. *sigh*

  15. kris

    This is crap.


    My next post was going to be about how I overemoticon. Now I’ll just have to write about my catnip habit.

    Seriously. (Wink.)

  16. a.m. griff

    damn neil, i slept with tom cruise too. you dog you.

  17. Michael

    I def. hate overusage of smilies, but ;)does serves the purpose of getting across a joking tone in a written format. Still, as you’ve illustrated, somehow writers managed, long before computers dumbed down our communication. If it were written today, would Jonathan Swift retitle his essay “A Modest Proposal ;)”?

  18. anonymous city girl

    All you people talking shit about Jude Law are liars!!!! Dirty Filthy Liars!!!
    Jude Law has a perfect penis… he has to… he has to.

  19. Josia

    No comment 🙂

  20. Fun Joel

    I once heard that Martin Buber said (I’m paraphrasing here) —

    The main difference between Judaism and Christianity is that the Jews are waiting for the Messiah to come, and the Christians believe he came already and are waiting for him to come again. So why don’t we wait until he gets here and just ask him if he’s been here before!

  21. M.A.

    Neil, What’s white out?

    (Kidding!) 😛

  22. psychotoddler

    Irony is tough to write 😛

  23. Dating Dummy

    You know what they say about communication being 90% nonverbal!

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