A <3 2 <3 Talk

Okay, be honest, did you figure out what the title meant? If you happen to be a guy then the chances are pretty slim. A few days ago, I got mail in which the sender had separated every paragraph with a row of <3<3<3 s instead of the regular ****s or ###s. Though 3 and # share the same key, the pattern looked too regular to be a typo. However, in my postscript I suggested to the sender that they looked liked typos. The draftee (a girl) shot back almost offended that "<3" stands for a heart!!! The separators were in honour of Valentine's Day.
At the risk of sounding sexist - I have noticed that girls use emoticons more than guys. An occasional smile :) or wink ;) in an email is okay, but some girls seem to communicate exclusively using these symbols. When actual text starts looking like garnish within a soup of emoticons then clearly a line has been crossed.

The question is why do girls overuse emoticons?
It is true that we make sense of speech by not only the literal meaning but also by how it is said. The loudness, pitch is highly related to the emotional state of the speaker. Written speech strips out all that tonal content. Emoticons have provided that bridge to some tonal context. I have often found a smiley :) very useful for tempering or defusing an angry remark. A recent survey concluded that women all over the world wanted more romance and men wanted more (guess what?) - sex. It further reinforces the stereotype that men are more physical and women more emotional. Then to women more than men, tonal content might be more important and it is not hard to see why women have most eagerly jumped on the emoticon bandwagon and seem to pepper their text with more emoticons than a guy would deem strictly necessary.
So for those drafting their V-day paeans to their lady loves check out this page.


Ashutosh said...

Some girls believe in communicating with no symbols at all, emoticons or otherwise! And expecting guys to still understand them...that's where the real problem lies; the infinitely more advanced telepathic psyche of girls compared to guys. That's why the Venusian epithet sounds apt. The Martian epithet for guys on the other hand, is simply supposed to be a euphemism for 'alien' I think.

Anirudh said...