Sunday, November 18, 2007

Virtual Body Language

This is directly pulled from my Blog, but I think it has a place here as well.

It is an interesting thing to realize how much people use body language in typing these days. And it all spawned from games.. Those of you who text message, you're welcome.
For those of you who are now confused let me explain. If you text message, play online games, or do any communication through typing online, you should understand what I'm saying. For those of you who do not get it, pay close attention.

:) This is a smiley face. This is used to portray yourself as smiling.
:( This is a frown-y face. This is used to portray yourself as frowning.
>:O This is a "pissed the hell off" face. This is used to portray yourself as being "pissed the hell off."
8X This is either a sick face, or a disgusted face... subject to context.

Now, these are four of the most common used emotes, or texts used to convey emotion. Do you understand this? We are conveying body language through text! And it is WORKING! People use many other emotes all the time.

Lol: Laugh out Loud
Rofl: rolling on the floor laughing.
Omw: On my way
Brt: be right there

This is NOT a short list! What makes body language so important that we have to be able to portray it to people who are not actually able to see us? And the method doesn't stop with shortening words or using symbols for facial expressions. Due to many Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) people now use / to represent an action.


And these actions become extremely complex with a simple word. And people who decide to go a little more Emo on the world have them too.

/wrist = slitting my wrists
/cut = cutting myself
/die = um.. dying
/cry = crying.... wait.. I used that one. Oh well, it belongs here anyway.

It is a true testament to how important our body language is when we actually have to find a way to emulate it into a non body form of communication. Body language actually can tell someone more than verbal or written languages, so it is obvious how much more useful body language is over the others. it is also one of the first forms of language and therefore a truly natural language. You can have a conversation with someone without doing anything more than conveying your feelings though body language. A rather impressive feat when you think about it.
Body language is a valuable thing, and I understand what makes people believe that they need to carry it with them into their extended forms of communication, but the interesting thing is this; Why did it take so long? Why did we not instill body language into written communication sooner? What barred us from it? I think that the shrinking of the world that is the Internet is the answer. People did not need to communicate body language before. People' networks did not extend nearly as far 20 years ago as they do now. most of the time when you spoke to someone you were actually talking to them. Now you can talk to people on the other side of the world, on a regular basis, and body language truly hits your conversations home.
Welcome to the age of virtual body language. You can thank the gamers.
~ B


Torben B said...

This is a really great blog post.

Grabloid said...

Maybe someday we'll be speaking entirely in code online with strings of letters that stand for words/phrases. Personally, I'm way behind on this language game...I'm just getting comfortable with brb (be right back) and ttyl (talk to you later). Initially this all seems a bit silly, maybe childish, or lazy, but I think it is very interesting and useful in many cases. If it becomes more developed it would be an extremely complex and concise way of speaking to one another. I wonder if there is some kind of online dictionary of these types of emotes...?

Scott Abbott said...

I'm thinking that as I write this sentences I'm using code, strings of letters that stand for words and phrases. And within that standard system for writing, we also have ways to shorten things -- "I'm" is a shorter way to write I am. My favorite from old cartoons, is !@#$%^&*!, which looks like a visual explosion and stands for profanity.

Shorthand, now fallen out of practice, was a system of signs standing for words and phrases.

:) or (: are interesting as Brent writes, as they typographically reproduce a smile or frown. They are visual equivalents to onomatopoeia.

And for some reason, that's got me thinking that the metaphors that originally were at the root of our words -- the *sta root I once mentioned in class, for instance, reproduce gestures (standing) that then stand for something else.

So, with long use, do we forget that :) means "smile," just as we have forgotten that "constitution" is tied to standing? Is it the newness of the convention that makes it feel fresh?

Michael Kline said...

I love it! I'm in the middle of challenging my readers to come up with a new word for "texting" or its evil twin "texted", so if anyone has any thoughts, drop me a comment.


Vegor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vegor said...

I can't believe I was so dead set against texting for so I can't imagine life without it.

I think it is interesting that
Western Union sent their last telegraph just last year.

And in it's place we have a very similar form of communication that has also spawned a language of its own.