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Thread: Use of winks

  1. #1
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    Use of winks

    I have something I wanted to ask other people. Sometimes in conversations people use a wink emoji, like

    I looked it up on the Interwebs, and according to all sources it is a completely friendly, innocuous symbol, that is used to express flirtation or closeness.

    But my impression is that people use it as a subtle way to put other people down. I know many people who seem to use it when they think they've made a clever argument against someone else, but masquerading it as a joke. Like for example if a person were to say,

    "King is never used as a last name in English."

    "How about Martin Luther King. "

    To me, that wink is used to indicate, "you are a complete idiot for saying that." Am I being too sensitive, or is wink actually used as a way to express one's superiority over someone making a wrong statement?
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    And just to put it in context, I'm kind of asking because I really avoid using that symbol because I'm afraid of how other people might take it, and wonder if I am being too careful.
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    I've never used it as a "put down" but I can't speak for anyone else.

    The example you gave does not come across as exactly a put down either, just a little nose-tweak, like "you probably knew this anyway but maybe you forgot". IOW the reply thinks you had a "brain fart", as all people occasionally have, not idiocy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I've never used it as a "put down" but I can't speak for anyone else.

    The example you gave does not come across as exactly a put down either, just a little nose-tweak, like "you probably knew this anyway but maybe you forgot". IOW the reply thinks you had a "brain fart", as all people occasionally have, not idiocy.
    Actually, I don't even know what a "nose-tweak" is. I may be behind the times!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Actually, I don't even know what a "nose-tweak" is. I may be behind the times!
    Gentle but (intended as) harmless teasing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I have something I wanted to ask other people. Sometimes in conversations people use a wink emoji, like

    I looked it up on the Interwebs, and according to all sources it is a completely friendly, innocuous symbol, that is used to express flirtation or closeness.

    But my impression is that people use it as a subtle way to put other people down. I know many people who seem to use it when they think they've made a clever argument against someone else, but masquerading it as a joke. Like for example if a person were to say,

    "King is never used as a last name in English."

    "How about Martin Luther King. "

    To me, that wink is used to indicate, "you are a complete idiot for saying that." Am I being too sensitive, or is wink actually used as a way to express one's superiority over someone making a wrong statement?
    I think you're absolutely right--it's often used as the text equivalent of a smirk. I used to have to communicate regularly with a man who would write intentionally and unambiguously offensive text, and then tack a wink on the end.
    In a similar way, some people use the smile or grin emoji to signal self-satisfaction: "So I think we all know who's right here. "

    The definitions I see for emojis online generally seem to be aspirational rather than descriptive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Gentle but (intended as) harmless teasing.
    Maybe it's just that I don't really understand how teasing can be harmless. Different people can be triggered by different things, and how can you know if your teasing is actually harmless or not? I guess that when you have a group of friends, you can basically come to an understanding of, this level of teasing is what we all tolerate. But on the Internet, when you don't really know the people in person, how can you know what will trigger a particular person or not?
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    I think you're absolutely right--it's often used as the text equivalent of a smirk. I used to have to communicate regularly with a man who would write intentionally and unambiguously offensive text, and then tack a wink on the end.
    In a similar way, some people use the smile or grin emoji to signal self-satisfaction: "So I think we all know who's right here. "

    The definitions I see for emojis online generally seem to be aspirational rather than descriptive.
    Thanks, that's exactly what I was feeling.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    And just to put it in context, I'm kind of asking because I really avoid using that symbol because I'm afraid of how other people might take it, and wonder if I am being too careful.
    Probably not being too careful. Context and tone are already very hard to judge in online communication, adding ambiguous symbols with little agreed-upon meaning make it harder.

    If you're not comfortable with a particular convention, no law says you have to use it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    The definitions I see for emojis online generally seem to be aspirational rather than descriptive.
    And just as a sub-point, I find that with other things as well. Sometimes I am trying to look online for a descriptive definition of something, and everything I find in line seems to be aspirational, like what we want something to be rather than what it really is. It's actually something that bothers me quite a lot.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Probably not being too careful. Context and tone are already very hard to judge in online communication, adding ambiguous symbols with little agreed-upon meaning make it harder.
    Thanks to both of you.
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    I'm not a big user of emojis, anyway. But I do largely avoid the winking emoji, because of the divergent usage I see. I've also abandoned the words "refute" and "infer" for the same reason.

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    I've become quite a bit more careful and selective with my emoji use, precisely for the reason expressed here - interpretation of intent often goes amiss, resulting in awkward followup.

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    I use and fairly regularly (even right here on CQ). I never use them as a put-down. They are always an indication for me that I am making a joke (broad or subtle respectively), that the text is not to be taken too seriously.

    It makes me sad that people are being offended by what I might be posting and makes me just want to go back into hermit mode. It just adds to my feelings that I just don't understand humans.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    I use and fairly regularly (even right here on CQ). I never use them as a put-down. They are always an indication for me that I am making a joke (broad or subtle respectively), that the text is not to be taken too seriously.

    It makes me sad that people are being offended by what I might be posting and makes me just want to go back into hermit mode. It just adds to my feelings that I just don't understand humans.
    Back in the '90s, when I first became aware of emoticons, I predicted (unfortunately, not in writing) that they'd be hijacked away from their original meanings. In part, because that's what people do with meanings, and in part because the facial expressions they portray have a huge and subtle variety of meanings, signalled by tiny modifications to the expression. We can mostly tell the difference between a warm smile, a passive-aggressive smile and a patronizing smile in real life, but once people started using the same emoticon to signal all these mental states, it all got messy.
    For me, an emoticon or emoji just adds some additional content to a message from which I still need to extract meaning by using context. If it's any comfort, I've always managed to figure out the meaning of your emojis. But that's what it comes down to, for me at least--I work out the intention of the emojis from the content and context of the text, rather than the other way around.

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    The trouble is, a wink in real life can be expressed in several ways. It can exaggerated to comic proportions or it can be subtle, quick, and delivered with a playful or mischievous smile. A single emoji is the same every time no matter the intent or context. Here are a few other uses I can think of:

    —a comment not to be taken too seriously...like this one you big baby.
    —comments of a conspiratorial nature: The party is at 8pm but James doesn't know. Mum's the word.
    —an inside joke: I really don't recommend getting drunk and swimming naked in the fountain at Caesar's Palace. Am I right, James? Am I right?
    —a tongue-in-cheek remark: I would write something witty for this one but my tongue isn't speaking to me at the moment.
    —sarcasm...but that's a moot point, since no one here engages in sarcasm. Ever.
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Back in the '90s, when I first became aware of emoticons, I predicted (unfortunately, not in writing) that they'd be hijacked away from their original meanings. In part, because that's what people do with meanings, and in part because the facial expressions they portray have a huge and subtle variety of meanings, signalled by tiny modifications to the expression. We can mostly tell the difference between a warm smile, a passive-aggressive smile and a patronizing smile in real life, but once people started using the same emoticon to signal all these mental states, it all got messy.
    For me, an emoticon or emoji just adds some additional content to a message from which I still need to extract meaning by using context. If it's any comfort, I've always managed to figure out the meaning of your emojis. But that's what it comes down to, for me at least--I work out the intention of the emojis from the content and context of the text, rather than the other way around.

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    I've always used the wink to indicate that my statement was not meant to be taken seriously.

    Except that, I'd often omit it if the statement were so outrageous that no sensible person could take any offense with it. That didn't always work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    The trouble is, a wink in real life can be expressed in several ways. It can exaggerated to comic proportions or it can be subtle, quick, and delivered with a playful or mischievous smile. A single emoji is the same every time no matter the intent or context. Here are a few other uses I can think of:

    —a comment not to be taken too seriously...like this one you big baby.
    —comments of a conspiratorial nature: The party is at 8pm but James doesn't know. Mum's the word.
    —an inside joke: I really don't recommend getting drunk and swimming naked in the fountain at Caesar's Palace. Am I right, James? Am I right?
    —a tongue-in-cheek remark: I would write something witty for this one but my tongue isn't speaking to me at the moment.
    —sarcasm...but that's a moot point, since no one here engages in sarcasm. Ever.
    I use them exactly like that. To indicate a joke/sarcasm/not to be taken seriously. Never to put someone down or anything like that.

    And by the way, regarding "King" never being used as a last name in English: how about Lion King?
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    The trouble is, a wink in real life can be expressed in several ways. It can exaggerated to comic proportions or it can be subtle, quick, and delivered with a playful or mischievous smile. A single emoji is the same every time no matter the intent or context. Here are a few other uses I can think of:

    —a comment not to be taken too seriously...like this one you big baby.
    —comments of a conspiratorial nature: The party is at 8pm but James doesn't know. Mum's the word.
    —an inside joke: I really don't recommend getting drunk and swimming naked in the fountain at Caesar's Palace. Am I right, James? Am I right?
    —a tongue-in-cheek remark: I would write something witty for this one but my tongue isn't speaking to me at the moment.
    —sarcasm...but that's a moot point, since no one here engages in sarcasm. Ever.
    -- Flirting. I have no experience with that but I'm told people do it.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    I use and fairly regularly (even right here on CQ). I never use them as a put-down. They are always an indication for me that I am making a joke (broad or subtle respectively), that the text is not to be taken too seriously.

    It makes me sad that people are being offended by what I might be posting and makes me just want to go back into hermit mode. It just adds to my feelings that I just don't understand humans.
    Just to (hopefully) reassure you, your use of emoticons has never bothered me at all. As others have pointed out, the cases that have bothered me was when, from the context, I felt the person was using it to be snide.


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    As an example of the ambiguity problem with emoji, I give you "slightly smiling face":
    Conveys a wide range of positive, happy, and friendly sentiments. Its tone can also be patronizing, passive-aggressive, or ironic, as if saying This is fine when it’s really not.
    So, actually completely useless for any rational form of communication.

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    Call me weird, but I use it for situations where I'm smiling but nog extremely smiling. So something I say that moderately amuses me, something that is a slight joke, something that makes me a bit happy...

    Apparently straightforward use of emoji's is too much to ask for.
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    So, it's official. Smiley face emoji is a joke, millennials told, from the Times today. (Probably paywalled, sorry.)
    Erica Dhawan, the author of Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance, said people over the age of 30 usually use emojis to signify what the images show, while younger people may use them for sarcasm or to illustrate an entirely different meaning.
    The gist of it is that Gen Zers interpret many emoji used by Millennials and Boomers as if they're passive-aggressive signalling, rather than literal.
    Todays teenagers are also reported to be "scornful" of people who use abbreviations like "gr8" and "txt", which gets a big "Y-e-e-s!" from me. (Assuming that's not interpreted as passive-aggressive, too.)

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    There is presumably some double think if the receiver knows the age, or generation classification, of the sender. For me, emojis remain a communication with grandchildren under ten, or completely reverse meaning for contemporaries who should know better. I am guilty of using the original smiley face literally, but times change. I received a welsh flag today, from someone in
    Wales, who explained it meant raining. Obviously. I sent back a cow, to mean have you watched Cowes boat races. from Wales.
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    There is presumably some double think if the receiver knows the age, or generation classification, of the sender. For me, emojis remain a communication with grandchildren under ten, or completely reverse meaning for contemporaries who should know better. I am guilty of using the original smiley face literally, but times change. I received a welsh flag today, from someone in
    Wales, who explained it meant raining. Obviously. I sent back a cow, to mean have you watched Cowes boat races. from Wales.
    For me, life's now too short to get involved in that sort of in-group/out-group guessing game.
    As Richard Feynman famously remarked to Murray Gell-Mann (who was being wilfully obscure at the time), "Don't you think the primary purpose of language is communication?" Emoji are ambiguating themselves out of usefulness.

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    (On a related note, the Times article reminds me that the adjective "passive-aggressive" has evidently moved so far from its orginal meaning in psychology that it's become pretty useless, too.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    (On a related note, the Times article reminds me that the adjective "passive-aggressive" has evidently moved so far from its orginal meaning in psychology that it's become pretty useless, too.)

    Grant Hutchison
    I wondered about that, since sending images is rather active. I suppose sending very rude ones back, (are there any of those?) would count as passive aggressive. While writing “what do your emojis mean?” Is just passive curious, and ignoring them, well that’s possibly the best tactic. They need stronger glasses anyway.
    sicut vis videre esto
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    The gist of it is that Gen Zers interpret many emoji used by Millennials and Boomers as if they're passive-aggressive signalling, rather than literal.
    Yeesh. I use them rarely, but honestly. I vaguely remember some old article about how little emotional information comes through in writing, and this sometimes leads people to read things wildly differently than they were intended, so while one might be posting something in happy frame of mind, a reader might see it as something written angrily. I remember one case in particular where a poster always seemed to be misinterpreting what I was saying and in the worst possible way. I finally put them on ignore because interaction was pointless. They eventually managed to get banned without any help from me.

    Anyway, I thought the key point to emojis was to manually add the emotional information in a face to face discussion. I usually use a smiley where there is debate or argument and I am trying to add additional emotional information, as I would while talking, to show there are no hard feelings. Or other times to just show I am genuinely happy. Naturally, some people would just have to interpret that in exactly the opposite way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    I wondered about that, since sending images is rather active. I suppose sending very rude ones back, (are there any of those?) would count as passive aggressive.
    Well, if you do something obviously aggressive like that, then you're just being aggressive. What people commonly seem to call "passive-aggressive" behaviour is really covert-aggressive--doing something that's makes the recipient appear unreasonable if they protest, like those winking smilies that bothered Jens in the OP, or suddenly correcting someone's grammar in the middle of an argument about something else.

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