Your Guide to Funny Netiquette

by Matt

If you're like me, a person more suited to communicating with others electronically than face to face, then you are already laughing. Why? Because of the word "netiquette", of course. Isn't it fun the way we in the electronic world keep creating these words and rules that all the popular people that used to make fun of us can't keep up with? We can create words that are cute and with which we may delight our secret computer sects. You see, "netiquette" is "net" plus "etiquette", meaning the etiquette of the Internet, or net, as we in the know call it.

There is a drawback, though, and that is that the same people that delight in creating cute new phrases are also the ones that really have very little else to do. And so the phrases and cute ASCII drawings blossom like Spock ears at a Star Trek convention. This is why we at the Gift Electronique have decided to provide you with a guide to the funny "emoticons" (you're laughing again, aren't you?) and acronyms of Internet communications.

Let's start with the basics, okay?


The "smiley" was the first of the "emoticons". The word emoticon has no basis in latin, greek, or esperanto. Actually, it is a term thought up by geeks to express their desire that emotions have computer-generated precision. The late internet humor pioneer Ottmar Cantori invented emoticons and the smiley in 1987 as a way to express, to people with whom he had never had human contact, his love for life. One year later, distraught at his inability to license and control the use of his creation, and horrified to find his "smiley" emoticon bastardized into a frown, Ottmar shot himself in the head.

The exact meaning of the smiley is "I'm so happy, I work on computers all day and I also do not have the creative capacity to truly describe my pleasure," or "in case you did not know I was joking because what I said was so weak and pathetic, I will put this emoticon here to make it clear."

It is from these humble beginnings that Internet-specific humor grew. Next came winking smileys, the aforementioned frowny, fornicating smileys and the now almost-cliched surprised smiley. However, like a gold mine that has paid out well but is almost depleted, the smiley field is inhabited with many older Internet miners hoping that some accidental combination of keystrokes will strike the motherload.

There has been no truly new research in emoticons since Cantori's original discovery. Currently, however, the smiley is used by a very diverse community of complete idiots with absolutely no creativity or reason to live.


LOL short for "Laugh Out Loud" was invented by Shari Chen, the first recipient of Ottmar's outrageous smiley. Shari successfully petitioned to the U.S. patent office and has built LOL into a $50 million dollar a year industry.

Today the most productive and innovative Netiquette work is taking place in abbreviations and acronyms, led by the University of Washington's Internet Communications Research Laboratory (UWICRL). UWCIRL has permission from LOL, Inc., as researchers, to continue development and expansion of LOL, with patent rights being split between groups. Among UWICRL's more successful advances are:


Rolling on the floor laughing - which is meant to represent something even funnier than LOL. For example, Family Circus has the potential to be LOL, while Dennis the Menace can be ROTFL.


Rolling on the floor choking, please get help. While seemingly obscure, this acronym comes in handy for grotesquely obese "Webheads" who are so surprised by information retrieved using the Internet that they choke on the bones of their Kentucky Fried Chicken.


Grin - meaning exactly what it seems. Researchers in Washington found that there must be some way to express mild amusement with a story or joke that is not LOL. <g> is also excellent for expressing smug pleasure in yourself, for example "I just busted a cap on my landlord's skinny white ass <g>." <g> is often abused by people trying to be funny but fearing that nobody can tell if they don't indicate this. Perhaps these people should be shot.

<bg> and <vbg>

Big grin and very big grin still remain below LOL, but are stronger representations of either amusement or smugness. You will often find <bg> or <vbg> used by people that probably shouldn't at all be proud of their pathetic existences. These two phrases do, however, have an essential purpose, insist researchers. That purpose is to provide people unsure that others will detect their supposed cleverness an abbreviated way to point it out. For example "I am very clever <vbg>."

The IMO Debate

Until 1992, UWICRLwas the only standard-setting body for for emoticons and acronyms. A splinter group, the Internet Emoticon and Acronym Board (IEAB), which is purely evil and selfish, formed from former UWICRL researchers over a dispute in the use of IMO (In My Opinion).

IEAB took IMO and added and H after M. The dispute of the UWICRL was not over adding a letter, which the UWICRL has always been open to doing. Rather, the problem was that the members if IEAB released the term into usage without clearly defining the meaning of the H., much like the nebulous H. in the center of Jesus H. Christ. To this date, the debate still rages over whether the H stands for the pretentious "Humble" which no truly humble person would add, or whether it stands for "Honest" which any liar would still add because it is a minor infraction in a life full of dishonesty.

IMO and IMHO are both excellent ways to begin a sentence that anyone but the biggest moron (see smiley users) could pretty easily figure out is opinion. For example "Elle MacPherson is pretty," becomes "IMHO, Elle MacPherson is pretty." The reader learns from the second example that you were not speaking for the earth's population in general but only in your own "humble" opinion.


Why do emoticons and acronyms exist in cyberspace? Well, truth be told, there are some useful ones. I have seen "LMK" stand for "Let Me Know", and while the user is a lazy bastard for not typing the few extra letters, at least LMK adds something to the sentence it is within.

The majority of emoticons and acronyms are nowhere as useful. They are, in fact, a way for Internet geeks to separate themselves from the rest of the world. They do not add anything. They are merely protocol so that lonely, asocial shut-ins can recognize immediately that incoming messages are also from lonely, asocial shut-ins.


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