The Next ¯\_(ツ)_/¯: 10 Emoticons To Add To Your Repertoire
Enough is enough. For too long, Americans have been using the “shruggie” — ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ — for all of our emoticon needs. I say: No more. While the shruggie, meant to represent a person offering a resigned shrug (just look at it), is one of the true linguistic gifts of the internet era, there’s a whole wide world of kaomoji out there waiting to take the U.S. bystorm.
Kaomoji are, of course, Japanese-style emoticons, first imported to U.S. internet shores by anime forum posters. Why use kaomoji? They’re more elaborate and more expressive — and also more practical: You don’t need to tilt your head to the side to readthem.
While some basic kaomoji — the shruggie, the crying face (;_;), the happy face (^_^) — have been adopted by the internet’s prosumer category, it’s time to close up the kaomoji gap and make America great again. In 2016, take the pledge to use more kaomoji more often. What will be the Next Great ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ? Use this post as a reference forcopying-and-pasting.
Some nominees …
(◕‿◕✿) Flower Girl
A classic. (◕‿◕✿) is, much like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, applicable in almost any situation. It can be used genuinely, maybe when you’re feeling pretty! But it is also perfect for passive-aggressivemessages.
(づ￣ ³￣)づ KissyFace
It’s time to step up your sexting game. Sending the face with the heart eyes and a bunch of hearts isn’t gonna cut it anymore. That’s amateur hour. (づ￣ ³￣)づ is a perfect addendum to any text message. It’s romantic and cute without being threatening. Imagine if, instead of responding to the pope with “fuck me, daddy,” teens sent him (づ￣ ³￣)づinstead.
(⁄ ⁄•⁄ω⁄•⁄ ⁄) Embarrassed
Let’s be honest: You’re gonna make a fool of yourself in 2016. Multiple times. Everyone’s gonna laugh at you online. You could try and tweetstorm your way out of it, or, in the words of my AP English teacher: “Own it.” Next year is the year of owning your mistakes, and (⁄ ⁄•⁄ω⁄•⁄ ⁄) is perfect forthat.
( ་ − ་ )ུ DisappointedDad
Obviously this is open to interpretation, and the last thing I want to do is misgender a kaomoji, but this one always reminds me of a disappointed dad with his pipe. Like, this is perfect for situations where you’re starting to feel old and out of touch with theYouths.
( ༎ຶ ༎ຶ ) CryingBlood
Gang, when I’m crying blood, there’s only one kaomoji I turn to. It’s ( ༎ຶ ༎ຶ ) . Sometimes the standard crying emoji just don’t cut it. When you see something so bad that you want to claw your eyes out, ( ༎ຶ ༎ຶ ) is the one to turnto.
( ＾◡＾)っ✂╰⋃╯ Misandry
I have a feeling that misandry is coming back in a big way in 2016. Here’s a nice but threatening way to tell dudes to backoff.
( う-´)づ︻╦̵̵̿╤── \(˚☐˚”)/ GunViolence
If this was a New York Times front-page headline, I’d definitely read thearticle.
(凸ಠ益ಠ)凸 Middle Fingers
You know what this is. It’s the angry middle-finger guy. S/he is incredibly angry about something, as we all are, every day, until we die. There is no situation where (凸ಠ益ಠ)凸 isn’tappropriate.
_(┐「ε:)_ Giving Up andDying
Look, there’s nothing wrong with giving up. Sometimes you just want to lie down and die, letting nature consume your corpse and return you to the earth from whence you came. We all know thatfeel.
ʕ ·(エ)· ʔ Bear
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ is famously known across the Internet as the “shrug face”. These dongers are all a similar style with the same sort of arms. What is different amongst them are their expressions, which elaborate on the original, famous shrug face. While most people will recognize this famous shrug face, they will not be expecting to see all the other versions of it. So you can surprise them.
|¯\_ಠ_ಠ_/¯||¯\_(⌣̯̀⌣́)_/¯||˘\_( õ ‹3 ó)_/˘|
|¯\(©¿©) /¯||へ‿(ツ)‿ㄏ||¯\_▒ – ﹏ – ▒_/¯|
|¯\_( ◉ 3 ◉ )_/¯||¯\_〳 •̀ o •́ 〵_/¯||¯\_( ͠° ͟ʖ °͠ )_/¯|
|¯\_༼ᴼل͜ᴼ༽_/¯||¯\_༼ ି ~ ି ༽_/¯||¯\_༼ ಥ ‿ ಥ ༽_/¯|
|¯\_(⊙_ʖ⊙)_/¯||¯\_| ✖ 〜 ✖ |_/¯||¯\_▐ ☯ ︿ ☯ ▐_/¯|
|¯\_╏ ՞ ︿ ՞ ╏_/¯||¯\_(⊙︿⊙)_/¯||¯\_ȌᴥȌ_/¯|
These kaomojis simply have straight arms like \ and / raised up to say meh. One even has a bead of sweat on it’s face using the character ;. These emotes don’t care all that much. They don’t have much more to say about it either.
The Best Way to Type ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Updated, 2:20 p.m.
All hail ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
In its 11 strokes, the symbol encapsulates what it’s like to be an individual on the Internet. With raised arms and a half-turned smile, it exudes the melancholia, the malaise, the acceptance, and (finally) the embrace of knowing that something’s wrong on the Internet and you can’t do anything about it.
As Kyle Chayka writes in a new history of the symbol at The Awl, the meaning of the “the shruggie” is always two-, if not three- or four-, fold. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ represents nihilism, “bemused resignation,” and “a Zen-like tool to accept the chaos of universe.” It is Sisyphus in unicode. I use it at least 10 times a day.
For a long time, however, I used it with some difficulty. Unlike better-known emoticons like :) or ;), ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ borrows characters from the Japanese syllabary called katakana. That makes it a kaomoji, a Japanese emoticon; it also makes it, on Western alphabetical keyboards at least, very hard to type. But then I found a solution, and it saves me having to google “smiley sideways shrug” every time I want to quickly rail at the world’s inherent lack of meaning.
My solution is also only possible on a Mac and/or iPhone. (On Twitter, Justin Jacoby Smith recommends Auspex, a free utility for Windows that mimics the Mac and iPhone’s system-wide text-replacement function. And the best app like this for Android seems to be Textspansion. Both apps should allow for easy shrugging.)
On a Mac
1. Open System Preferences, then go to the “Keyboard” preference pane.
2. Using the menu at the top of the pane, go to the “Text” pane.
3. Okay, so you’re going to add one of those text replacements. Click the little plus at the bottom of the menu, and a new field will appear in the “Replace” column.
4. This is when you make the most important decision of all: What do you want to type to invoke the shrug? Myself, I type these characters: &shrug;. Ampersand-shrug-semicolon. The syntax recalls HTML escape characters, and, more important, it’s never something I type in the course of my daily life. Ampersand-word-semicolon doesn’t appear elsewhere in standard English.
- Copy and paste the shruggie person into the “With” field. Here’s one for reference: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
6. Ta-da! You’re done. Whenever you type your abbreviated-shrug, the full ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ should appear, anywhere on your system. If you’re like me, you’ll ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ in Gchat over and over again, until the symbol ceases to have any meaning, and, like “lololol,” means merely, “I had a reaction of some sort to that stimulus.”
On an iPhone
0. First of all, if you sync keyboard preferences between your Mac and your iPhone, you’re done! The shruggie will seamlessly sync and you shan’t need to stress. But if you’re flying solo with an iPhone, here’s how it works:
1. Open the phone’s Settings app. Then you’ll follow a set of menus: General > Keyboard > Shortcuts.
2. There’s a little plus sign in the top right corner of the screen. Tap it.
3. Okay, it’s the same as on a Mac! In the phrase textfield, type the shruggy dude: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
4. In the shortcut field, enter a set of characters you’re never going to need to type otherwise. (I like &shrug;, ampersand-shrug-semicolon.)
5. Save it, and you’re done! Now you too can mourn the world’s meaninglessness on-the-go.
The Life and Times of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
by Kyle Chayka
When Caroline Eisenmann, a young assistant at a New York literary agency, decided to rename her OkCupid profile, she wanted something that would make her stand out — a name that wouldn’t get lost amongst the omnipresent references to indie bands and cute animals, something that was “flippant” but with “a bit of a melancholic undertone” that would attract a suitably urbane mate, Eisenmann told me. Fingers poised over the keyboard, she wrote:
OkCupid rejected it. That it wouldn’t accept the lopsided, grinning face with upturned palms is almost strange: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ is, and was, part of the language of the internet, and it has been popping up more than ever in tweets, work emails, and gchats from friends.
The shruggie or “smugshrug,” as it is sometimes called, is what’s known as a “kaomoji,” or “face mark” in Japanese. It’s similar to an emoji or emoticon, but it incorporates characters from the katakana alphabet, instead of underscores and carets, for a wider range of expression. (The (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻ table flip is a favorite.) It went viral in English when, after Kanye West shot down Taylor Swift in favor of Beyonce during his infamous 2010 Video Music Awards interruption, he gave a little shrug with his hands outstretched in a slight acknowledgement of his own ridiculousness; the rap crew Travis Porter immediately tweeted, “Kanye shrug — -> ¯\_(ツ)_/¯” as a crude representation of the gesture. For a time, post-Kanye, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ continued to represent a kind of self-aware victory over the world: It was appropriated as the victory trademark of SeleCT, a competition-level Starcraft II player from Team Dignitas, after which it became known as “sup son,” and by late 2011, it was parodied on YouTube by Starcraft competition announcers and plastered on signs held up by fans.
After seeing the light of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, it’s hard to not notice it everywhere. Han Solo makes the gesture in Star Wars, as Reddit noticed in 2012. Daily Dot writer Miles Klee caught the Spider-Man super villain Mysterio doing it. In 2013, it appeared in a Reddit post that commanded users “lol idk just upvote.” “Lol idk” seems like a fairly apt description of the shruggie’s meaning, but it also doesn’t begin to describe the nihilism that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ embodies today.
It was the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ of times, it was the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ of times.
— Kevin Nguyen (@knguyen) May 13, 2014
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ is fundamentally connected to the experience of being online, in part because it cannot be spoken, only acted or typed. “Well, it’s like, the default Internet feeling,” Shane Ferro, an editor at Reuters, told me. She uses it “while gchatting a lot for ‘there is outrage on the Internet, but I just can’t today.’” Amazon editor Kevin Nguyen has it saved in his phone under the shortcut “IDGAF,” “but I realize that I don’t really use it to mean ‘I don’t give a fuck,’” he said. “It represents a way to acknowledging that maybe we take ourselves too seriously on the Internet.” Writer Molly Osberg explained that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ is “the natural answer to spending too much time in Internet c a s c a d e.”
Yet it also transcends the Internet and perhaps language itself, echoing incoherent expressions of sublime rage or terror, like the untranslatable keyboard smash, “asdfasldkvhjasd.” “There’s no parallel word, but it stands in for any number of horrified and numb and nihilistic sentiments… like ‘I don’t even have the bandwidth to comprehend how terrible this all is,’” Osberg said. She suggested an example sentence: “Would mass human extinction rly even be a bad thing? I awno ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.”
“There’s always a bit of a melancholic undertone. It’s like if YOLO grew from a reckless teen to an overly pensive twenty-something,” Eisenmann said. “The reason it works so well to convey bemused resignation must be some combination of the little half-smile and the wide arm-spread,” Wordnik founder Erin McKean explained. “PURE RESIGNATION, that’s my definition, caps included,” Jezebel contributor Phoenix Tso told me.
But, in addition to symbolizing despair, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ can be wielded as a Zen-like tool to accept the chaos of universe. Meditate on its wide eyes and upturned mouth; that’s not the expression of a quitter, it’s the carefree face of #blessed, radical openness.
walked 65 blocks home so i could get pizza without feeling guilty and then in the middle i got hungry and ate chipotle instead ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
— Jessica Roy (@JessicaKRoy) May 13, 2014
When someone performs ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ in real life, shrugging their shoulders and raising their outstretched hands in supplication to the sky it evokes an abdication of blame and a good-humored acknowledgement that shit, at times, happens, and there’s nothing we can do about it. “I think it’s obviously a ‘dealing with it’ vibe,” Vox Media designer Dylan Lathrop told me. “It’s a reaction more than a lifestyle, but I can definitely see people employing that vibe for their worldview.”
Rusty Foster, who writes the Today in Tabs newsletter, recently noted, “We are entering a golden age of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, which is very nearly the only reaction I am capable of having to anything.” In a yet-unpublished thousand-word manifesto, Foster writes, “11 plain black strokes perfectly capture the essence of everything I really believe most deeply. In short, my view of the whole universe is:
¯\_(ツ)_/¯.” Taking ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ the worldview to its logical conclusion, Foster makes the fatalistic argument that everything is predetermined and space-time is a false construction of the human mind:
Nobody has any actual free will, and nothing we do is chosen — what happens now is just is what happens, and we make up stories about it that make it seem like things happened for reasons and cause and effect aren’t just mirages of our flawed perception of a fundamentally static and fixed system.
Why go on living in our stage-set of a world? Indeed, why even bother tweeting at all? The answer, Foster thinks, is: “¯\_(ツ)_/¯ why not?”
Kyle Chayka is a freelance technology and culture writer living in Brooklyn.
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