So I was at dinner the other night with a couple of my Indonesian friends when I was taught the art of the emoticon. I’m not really sure how it came up, but we started talking about texting conventions in different cultures. For example, in America girls tend to use lots of exclamation points (!!!!) to illustrate that they aren’t being sarcastic, but are being cheerful. Apparently, in Indonesia emoticons serve that purpose and are an essential part of texting.
As my friends explained it, in Indonesian it’s not what you say that is important it’s how you say it. Emoticons provide the tone to your message.
For example, if you need to tell someone that you cannot come to meet them—you cannot say “I’m sorry, but I can’t come, I hope you have fun though!” Instead, you have to add emoticons so it would read something like, “I’m soooooo sorry I cannot come ! Could we possibly do it another day??? I hope you have fun!! ”
While to me as an American the two messages seem the same, they have a clear difference here in Indonesia. The first message is curt and slightly rude, while the second message conveys genuine disappointment that you cannot come and gives options for a way to make up the fact that you could not go.
I never knew texting could be so complicated, but I guess I just need to tap into my inner emoticon artist