So unhappy to meet you
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I must confess my stupidity. During my first 12 months in Japan I have been confusing the Japanese emoticon for ‘smiley’ with the one for ‘angry face’. It suddenly dawned on me, with a cold chill of realisation, that every time I emailed a new friend for the first time, or made a plan to meet up at the weekend, or sent an SMS to one of the teachers at my school, I’ve done it with a dirty look.
Upping sticks and bringing yourself to some far-flung foreign land brings with it inevitable communication difficulties. I thought my trouble contending with squiggles and dashes would be confined to the kanji, hirgana and katakana. But a simple series of brackets and slashes has had me walking around with animosity and contempt written all over my face, and got me looking downright upset about everything!
I’m not talking about a grinning yellow ball that makes it all too easy to show your feelings. I don’t mean a horny red devil, or even the cheeky winking guy who sticks out his tongue… I mean the pictorial punctuations which transform the Japanese keyboard into an endless choice of emotional possibility.
These are to chat, dating and friendship what hieroglyphics were to the ancient Egyptians. But, as I’ve realised with bitter experience, on-line chat’s perilous partners should be used with extreme caution. The annoyance I’ve been mistakenly presenting has now been replaced with legitimate and genuine terror as I contemplate my error!
Who knows how many times I’ve told Kouchou Sensei I really enjoyed the enkai, partnering it with an expression of sarcastic contempt. I’ll assume I never heard back from the hottie, whose number I got at the bar, because an irritable attitude is just not that sexy. Maybe I’ve built myself a reputation as the bossiest gaijin in town, cyber-yelling ‘meet me at the station at 7’ like a sergeant major.
That doesn’t mean there haven’t been times over the last year where I wasn’t actually upset. But for that particular mood I was saving the (X_X) emoticon. Oh yes, any time I have actually been justified in my temporary annoyance, I’ve been letting the world know it with my ‘unconsciousness’.
So that you don’t fall into the same trap as me, here’s a quick guide to a few common emoticons. And if you’ve heard from me over the last year, and my message seemed unnecessarily frosty, I really didn’t mean it! m(_ _)m
(^_^) (^-^) smiley
(>_<) (>.<) angry, dammit
d^_^b d-_-b listening to music, thumbs up
(~_^) (^_~) wink
(>_>) (¬_¬) annoyed, rhetorical
(X_X) x_x dead, unconscious
O_o @[email protected] surprise, disbelief, not amused
^///^ >///< blushing, embarrassed
=^_^= =>.>= happy blushing, embarrassed blushing, bashful
9(x.x)9 (;.;)9 shaking fist
(;_;) (T_T) crying
(._.) (,_,) disappointed, bitter
m(_ _)m sign of respect, apology
(´･ω･`) snubbed, deflated
(`･ω･´) feel perky
＿|￣|○ given up
(´；ω；`) terribly sad
ヽ(´ー｀)ﾉ peace of mind
ヽ(`Д´)ﾉ be irritable
（ ´Д｀） yelling
（ ﾟДﾟ） surprised, loudmouthed
┐(‘～`；)┌ don’t know the answer
（ ´_ゝ`） indifferent
( ﾟヮﾟ) happy, upbeat
(-_-) upset, not amused
(^o^) singing, laughing
(^_^’) nervous, sweat-drop, embarrassed
d(>w<)b double thumbs up
q(;^;)p double thumbs down
ಠ_ಠ look of disapproval
( °٢° ) drooling
_|_ (-.-) _|_ flipping off
¯_(ツ)_/¯ shrug, what’s up?
m/*.*m/ rocker smiley
&_& eye roll
c.c C.C disapproval
x_O O_x punched in the face
O|¯|_ bowing, worshipping
ಥ⌣ಥ tears of joy
ಠ⌣ಠ devious smile
e.e O.e creeped out
^>.>^ look that way, sarcasm, irony