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An emoticon (colloquially known as a smiley), is a small person, about 5 millimetres tall and weighing half a gram. Emoticons are made of keyboard characters loosely defined by a common trait of whininess, comb-overs, eyeliner, lack of testosterone, poor self image, flatulence, an affinity for Rites of Spring or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, ridiculous pop-punk; and the uncanny ability to self-replicate.
Some smilies are created solely to impress — not Peter Andre and jOOrdan impress, like an American beauty pageant impress, where they all hold their breath and put on slutty bikinis.
If you feel the need to express emotions go and call someone and talk to them over the phone or use one of those new-fangled web-cams.
edit Why emoticons exist
Emotes exist because a single person who had way too much spare time decided that it wanted to express itself through semicolons, asteriskes, commas, full stops, arrows and many more odd little markings on our keyboards. The inventor of emotes obviously had no social life and therefore decided that trying to make cute little faces out of these odd markings would be a good waste of time. What a pampered fathead.
edit Who uses emoticons
Mostly emoticons are used by children with instant messaging who uses them to express feelings they have. They are also frequently used on MySpace, Bebo and other MySpace like sites for stupid people with the emotional range of a keyboard. Some people take it upon themselves to give every emoticon they send a silly little nose resembling either a triangle or a line.
Emotes are not usually used by sane people as sane people know how to express their feelings through speech and body language instead of strange markings on a piece of paper or computer screen. However no sane person has been spotted on the internet since 1995.