Awhile back I took a moment out of my busy schedule of crying like a little girl to comprehensively review a handful of Internet emoticons. My work then was by no means exhaustive, as I only covered ten emoticons. As anyone even marginally familiar with chatting or posting on Internet forums knows, everything you read online is empirically true. But more importantly, there are thousands of emoticons, far more than I hinted at or reviewed. In an event so rare that it's probably about as common as a polar bear giving birth to a lobster made out of pure titanium, that article also garnered some positive feedback and requests for more. Never one to disappoint fans – save for the countless ones who routinely request that I commit suicide – I'm continuing this thoroughly pointless endeavor. That's right, get ready for more exciting reviews of colored circles with tiny faces on them!

I'm not going to dance around the issue, specifically because I don't consider it an issue and also because I don't know how to dance. Let's get down to business and give these emoticons a thorough reaming!

The "shocked" emoticon is specifically designed for those moments were you are so aghast with the situation at hand that your mouth pops open and your eyes bulge out like twin rockets blasting off on their way to the moon. I have been using the Internet for something like eight years now, and never once have I been in a situation where my face turned into an erupting volcano of shock, except maybe when my Internet girlfriend turned out to be a male FBI agent with some incriminating chat logs. By then I was far too removed from a keyboard to properly make use of emoticons anyway, so was of no help. Aside from that, how often do genuinely shocking moments occur on an Internet forum or instant message conversation? I tend to believe that if something truly shocking happens on the Internet, it's time to go outside and talk to real people, or maybe just walk to your mailbox. Hell, talk to your mailbox. Make it a sandwich, give it a massage, and learn to appreciate it.

Example usage: " You mean I'm banned from #DragonBallZFans forever??? I'll kill myself! I'll fucking kill myself and all of you and you'll all be sorry!"

is for when you get in one of those common situations where people online are making you furious, probably by posting spoilers to whatever glorified soap opera show you watch. Rather than walk away or turning the computer off, both simple means of evading the gritty seriousness of the digital world, you should always get irate. What better way to show that you are mad as hell than with a stupid red face? Everybody is going to see this and get scared, because then they will know that they went too far and crossed one of the Internet's many invisible lines. The Internet is serious, serious business, and I can't stress that enough. When you see someone pull this emoticon on you, it's time to log off and call the police, because you're probably in deep shit.

Example usage: " How dare walk in here like you own this place and tell me how to conduct myself! I'll see you in court! No, better yet, I'll see your family in court when they sue me for murdering you!"

In another obnoxious self-reference, I invented an exciting and dynamic new replacement for "LOL." CAWG, or "Cackling Aloud With Gusto," was to be the dawn of a new era of online communication. However, it failed miserably in much the same way that playing hide and seek in a germ lab would fail miserably. It didn't help that when it was introduced to the SA Forums, it had this rotten graphic attached to it. The sordid ordeal ended up bringing tremendous shame upon not just me, but the Internet as a whole. As you will probably note, this little guy is cackling. However, he's not cackling the innocent cackle of millionaires or crazy grandpas, but rather what I can only presume is the kind of cackle that follows a successful rape. Rape is certainly not the sort of thing I want to be associated with, especially when it's celebrated with so much gusto. Maybe if it's rape followed by guilt, but definitely not celebratory glee. I draw the line at happy rape, and I draw the line with you, Mr. Perverted Emoticon. You leave my acronyms alone.

Example usage: "And then after I tortured her, I let out the most carrion of all cackles , as if to cry out like a vulture as I devoured the last ounces of dignity from her poor, poor soul."

This is where the train explodes, flies of the tracks, hits an airplane, and then lands savagely on top of an orphanage full of especially pathetic children. I thought the whole point of an emoticon was to convey an emotion or facial expression. This is blankness, and while that is a facial expression, it need not be reproduced online. You know what you can do instead of using this emoticon? Just say "okay" and nothing else whenever you and your friends have one of your frequent conversations about why Final Fantasy girls are better than real life girls. I think we should strive to avoid ambiguity online, since it only lengthens dull conversations.

Example usage: "Help me! I have Bell's Palsy and my face won't move! "

We have a double header here! These two emoticons are more or less the same thing with some laughably crude "mirroring" technique providing the illusion of more. We also see the primitive development of basic emotion, which is a staggering advancement from the previous entry. Like a mighty scale, we watch as the mouth moves, thus tilting the balance. Will it tilt right? Will it tilt left? And those eyebrows, those Herculean eyebrows that flex like the rudders on airplanes! My God, it's majestic to behold! In all seriousness, here is where I get . Form a real expression and stop jerking your face muscles off with this indecisive mouth-tilting bullshit or I'm going to punch some emotion into your face. Failing that, I will introduce you to that sinister CAWG fucker, who will rape some emotion into your face.

Example usage: " I dunno, I kind of like cheese but then I kind of like things without cheese. Oh god its sooooo hard to decide. "

I'll swallow a lot of whoppers, especially when they are 2 for $2, but this is one I will simply not believe. I don't buy into the supernatural, so obviously I don't believe that an emoticon could be so riddled with confusion that it is able to charge the air around itself with psychic energy that forms not one, not two, but three question marks. Unless time and space are incredibly unstable, I wasn't born yesterday, and I don't fall for tricks. Am I to suddenly accept that emoticons can use magic? I don't fucking think so. One of the reasons the emoticon system works is because it is endeared to reality. Forget this fantasy crap where emoticons can call upon paranormal balderdash to illuminate the air with symbols. If I wanted fantasy I'd go read some books about cowboys and hobbits while wearing a homemade cape that strangely resembles the living room curtains. I want realism, and if emoticons can't deliver that, well, then I will simply look elsewhere.

Example usage: "White Castle Harpy casts high level confusion spell. You are bewildered. "

Okay, honestly, let's be reasonable people here. Who, aside from Pac-Man, can make this face? No one. And is Pac-Man real? No more than the Easter Bunny, Santa Clause, or Dennis Kucinich's chances of becoming the next president. In fact you would have to have radical reconstructive surgery or be the victim of a serious injury to even be able to make an expression like this. I believe that for emoticons to be successful, you have to be making the same facial expressions in real life, and in no way can you legitimately make this one. Otherwise the whole system is just bankrupt and out of control, and that's when the shit will hit the fan.

Example usage: "Today I got a curbjob and now my face looks like this "

This is a recent addition to the SA Forums' arsenal of smilies, and boy is it ever a winner. I'm not sure who made it, if it originates from our forums, or if it's an international sensation, but it's probably the only decent smiley face ever made. The raw passion dripping from this face, quite clearly inflamed with the sort of mystical happiness that only retards know, is profoundly chilling. To see this face is to see uncertainty. Are you looking at a monster with a broken smile? Are you looking at a gentle man-child glowing over the prospects of candy and getting to pet a real live puppy dog? One simply does not know. I think if there were ever an emoticon to transcend mere words and become art, this would be the one. As equally raw as powerful, this is fractured beauty, a pulsating artery of happiness pouring out like drool on a cake.

Example usage: " hey guys can we ride the ponies? can we? can we?"

I know that when you really get down to it, these aren't used all that seriously and more to give much needed color and eye candy to bird-witted conversations about homeroom shenanigans or Dawson's Creek plot developments. I myself often use emoticons in spirited self-mockery and irony, though I try to misuse them as often as possible because that's what it takes to be a hip writer on the information superhighway machine. While I tend to think we would be better off without them, I realize that they are not going anywhere. All we can do is try to live with them and hope that the future will be better.

– Josh "Livestock" Boruff (@Livestock)

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