In the world of instant messaging, there has been a disturbing trend of late to replace the emoticons of old with new, graphic icons. And this is just not good. I may be betraying my curmudgeonly, everything-new-sucks nature, but much like I’ve never enjoyed a MMORPG nearly as much as I enjoyed the MUSHes & MUSEs of old, these new graphical emoticons just seem, well, cheesy. A little yellow smiley face is an old, pre-web cliché. Variations on that theme, if anything, are even more so. The text-based emoticons were part of a new internet-based language, formed in many ways for expediency — both typing speed and bandwidth. And yes, neither of those are terribly relevant now, but these graphical emoticons feel to me like another example of a uncomprehending old-school media empire attempting to reduce the nature of online interactions to a ‘traditional’ level. There’s not even an option on my ICQ to turn off this translation of my emoticons into graphics that I can find.
On a side note, if you haven’t already, don’t upgrade to the new version of ICQ lite. I made that mistake yesterday, and the only ‘enhancements’ as far as I can see are that there is now an ad-box atop the contact list, and adverts beneath every message window. God-damned fucking banner ads.