In defence of the crying laughy face emoji

What do you call it? I swap between “laughy cry face” and “crying laughy face”, but WE ALL KNOW THE FACE I MEAN. It’s the emoji that we use in place of the “LMAO” of yore. It’s the emoji that the cool I-NEVER-USE-A-SMILEY-FACE-AND-ALWAYS-END-MY-SENTENCES-WITH-A-FULL-STOP people judge and despise the most, apart from maybe the collection of monkeys or the sassy girl who turned out to be a waitress.

On one hand, I get it. You hate crying laughy face? SO DO I. He is lazy and he has made me lazy. He is there for when someone says something in a group chat and you don’t actually find it funny, or for when you’re eating your dinner and only have one hand free to reply with. He is a low-effort emoji: non-committal yet happier than the “lol” or “haha” responses everyone used to over-analyse because we couldn’t decide if the recipients of our jokes were actually laughing or if they were just being polite and secretly wanted us to leave them alone.

YES, the cynic in me – the slightly repressed side which tuts at people who have bought eyelashes for their car and internally says “OH MY GOD SHUT UP” at everybody from school’s Facebook statuses – resents crying laughy face.

But you know what? I ALSO KIND OF LOVE HIM.

Back before the days of crying laughy face, there was no way to show you were actually laughing slash joking via any kind of emoticon slash text-based face. I know, right. We had “HEHE!” but we wanted more. Here were our options:

  • 😛 AKA the classic sticky-out tongue (big ‘P’)
  • :p AKA the smaller sticky-out tongue (small ‘P’, no difference in meaning but some people preferred one over the other)
  • 😉 AKA the winky face
  • :’) AKA the happy cry face

LET’S BREAK THESE DOWN.

The sticky-out tongue was, in my opinion, lame AF. Sticky-out tongue and its brother, smaller sticky-out tongue, were both as bad as each other and were frequently used by boys who hit on you every time you logged into MSN and typed “CAM???” before they’d said anything else. The tongues meant well but still didn’t sit well with me. They felt try-hard. Adding a hyphen nose made them even worse.

The winky face was my personal favourite because it felt slightly cooler and more devil-may-care than the tongue. The winky face wasn’t really bothered. “Like my joke or don’t,” it said, “IDGAF.” It was like a boy in a leather jacket calling you a pet name, making you laugh and then leaving you to think about it all.

But with the winky face came confusion. You know why? Because the winky face manages to make almost everything you type look like an innuendo, something I did not realise until it was FAR TOO LATE and I had already baffled everyone from colleagues to my mum. I couldn’t bring myself to use innocent sticky-out tongue so I stuck with winky face, hoping the people I was speaking to would realise that I was joking and not suggesting they take me on a seedy date.

In around 2007, I started to use the happy cry face –> :’)

It was smiley PLUS a tear, so I figured it would be a good way of saying “HAHAHA! Your joke was so funny I just cried a bit. AREN’T WE A HOOT.” It didn’t really work. The happy cry face, it turns out, is a sweet, caring face. It doesn’t say “I just snorted at your joke” – it says “I am very happy and touched” or “What you said was really cute” or “AW at this whole thing. I like this conversation.” So now I use it as that, and I like it better than 🙂 so it’s my go-to for when I am generally being nice.

I spent a great deal of my teen years pondering how to accurately suggest to someone that I was joking or loved their joke. So when crying laughy face appeared, I was chuffed. FINALLY. A face that shows my mirth. HERE IT IS.

Say what you like about old CLF but I myself feel that he has filled a real gap in the emoji market. I no longer have to type “ROFL” to show the extent of my laughter. I no longer freak people out with the winky face, except for when I am on the PC and don’t have access to heart-eye-face and the rest of the gang. I no longer have to say “That was SO funny!” because crying laughy face does it for me. Yes, I’ve become lazier, but I’ve also spent a lot less time worrying about sticky-out tongues, you know? LONG LIVE CRYING LAUGHY FACE. What a happy lil guy.

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