Misinterpreted Emoticons

An interesting episode reported on by the New York Times that serves as a reminder to be careful when sending messages digitally.

Emoticons can produce another layer of confusion, however: they don’t always read the same way across different technical interfaces. “In the text function of my BlackBerry there is a sidebar menu of emoticons (how ridiculous is that?) that shows the yellow smiley faces, except they are also crying and raging, and winking and blowing kisses, etc.,” Dr. Bates wrote. “I sent a fairly new acquaintance a ‘big hug’ emoticon — which, for the record, was ironic. But anyway, on his iPhone it came up with the symbols, not the smiley face, which don’t look anything like a big hug. From his perspective they look like a view of, er, splayed lady parts: ({}).“He then ran around his lab showing colleagues excitedly what I had just sent him. Half (mostly men) concurred with his interpretation, and the others (mostly women) didn’t and probably thought he was kind of a desperate perv.”

From http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/fashion/emoticons-move-to-the-business-world-cultural-studies.html