This is not about austere, understated, text-based emoticons. They never did me any harm, I'm leaving them alone.
No, this is about those animated yellow emoticons you get with on-line chat services.
You see their little faces popping out of the lines of text, gurning and grimacing, and they're
doing their best to represent your (or someone's) emotions, but it doesn't quite look right. Regardless of mood, I don't look like that. Let's assume for a moment that you don't either (though we can't be too sure hereabouts).
So, if we're not too dumb to communicate with words, let's allow these creatures their own lives. Let there be, for example, an answer to the question 'What are you crying about, little smiley?'
I see a life cycle of two or maybe three stages.
In the first (domestic) stage, it would behave a bit like a tamagotchi. You would create one associated with your chat account, and use it in real on-line dialogs. In this way, it would learn when to wink and when to vomit.
In the second (properly feral) stage, it would behave a bit like a cross between a worm and a chatterbot. Having been formally released into the wild in an emotional ceremony, it would hang out in the chat-service-provider's network and interact spontaneously with other members, and maybe with other feral smileys.
In the third stage, it would start to breed with other people's feral smileys, creating little smileys whose chatterbot behaviour was a blend of their parents'. If this stage got out of hand, then there might be a need for occasional culls, in which they would be hunted down, and their little yellow skins used for ...
- those little rubber thimble things that people wear for counting out banknotes
- condoms for household pets
- pencil-end erasers
- I'll stop there before this turns into a list.
Anyhow, the people who supply the chat services (Skype, MSN, etc.) could sell this as an add-on service, for really desperate people who are allergic to pets and can't be bothered with children, but still pine for something expensive that will misbehave and embarrass them in front of their friends.
Because the behaviour will ultimately be governed by the providers' own software, you wouldn't really have culls, but you could pretend, and produce some tacky rubber merchandise as described above, and more.