On Friday, Buzzfeed and the New York Daily News sent out identical novelty tweets on identical subjects. This is perhaps not incredible in itself. What is incredible is the fact that they both used that guy.
You know that guy, right? That guy so assiduously sneaking into Twitter feeds and Facebook posts the Internet-over, cheering causes with dubious sincerity? He can’t be searched, because he’s composed of characters that neither Twitter nor Google indexes. He can’t be named, because it’s unclear what the heck he’s doing. And he certainly doesn’t communicate anything, besides the (1) belabored faux-edginess of whoever’s doing the tweeting and (2) the recent ascendance of all things Kaomoji.
Kaomo-what, you say? Let’s recap.
About three weeks ago, the Awl published a wonderful story on this Kaomoji figure called, in certain circles, “shruggie.” Kaomoji are essentially Japanese emoji, which are read horizontally (versus tipping your head), and express a whole lot more than your run-of-the-mill smilies can say. That’s made them very popular among Asian tweens and certain savvy corners of the American Internet, where everyone suspects that the coolest tech trends descend, in some form or another, from Japanese teenagers.
Since then, Kaomoji have been sneaking into places we don’t typically see them. Like the Atlantic. And the tweets of major media organizations. The Daily Dot even published a brief encyclopedia of useful Kamoji, which includes that guy — among other people/things.
This is all well and good, of course: Kaomoji are a fascinating phenomenon, much like emoji and emoticons and other nonverbal, text-based forms of communication. But, I mean, once the New York Daily News tweets them, they’re pretty much ruined for everyone. Also, as far as Kaomoji goes, that guy is really, exceptionally weak. Per the Daily Dot, it’s meant to connote sass; per every other authority on the subject, it’s closer to “meh”; per Urban Dictionary, it’s just an open-ended “concept” that is “very easy to alter.” In other words,
( (> means
<) )> nothing.
Of course, this is the Internet, where everything ultimately means nothing, and we’re all just tweeting ephemera into cybersphere to distract from the eventual certainty of death (or something). Anyway, this is still gimmicky and annoying. If you’re trying to signal your hip insincerity in Kaomoji tweets, at least go for a universally recognized shruggie. Or an “I dunno LOL,” which is pretty easy to interpret.
Until then: ಠ_ಠ.