Evolution of the heart emoticon <3

Nelson Minar's latest blog post has a nice bit about the continuing evolution of heart emoticon (<3) among gamers:
<3 is a little sideways heart, to express love. Usually used ironically in response to a bitchy joke, or in apology for making said bitchy joke. Variants include </3 for a broken heart, <$ to convey a financial motive for love, and <4 as the superlative of <3.
<4 is just brilliant. Link

40

  1. So basically, some guy is trying to start new “emoticon memes” (imagine my fingers doing the quote move here) by writing a ~100 words post and he ends up here.

  2. No. Basically, a source I trust is reporting on the way that emoticons have evolved on his corner of the Internet and you’re making sarcastic remarks about it.

  3. I was hoping for something more. His blog seems pretty interesting, but the post wasn’t really about the evolution of <3 more of dictionary entry on it. The blog post he links to in this one is better in my opinion.

  4. Interesting that it appears here as a gamer’s emoticon – it’s been part of my Livejournal culture (mostly female / media fandom) for years, and it’s inevitable that I wonder if it’s women gamers who brought it to the game world…

    I’ve never seen <$ as defined here (clever!), but we routinely use <3 alone - which we also write out the "words" for, be them lessthanthree or asscone; these can be verbs of course, so that in the same way that you can have "I [heart] NYC" you also find "I lessthanthree you so much" (ironically, of course). I personally have a habit of hyperbole, so my <3 have become <3333333333333333 in some groups, and <3456789 in others, to convey over the top affection. I am completely unoriginal in this - by which I mean, it's really widespread in my online communities. /amateur unobjective e-anthropoly

  5. Oops, I should have thought to write out the html code, sorry.. Edited repost, hopefully working better:

    Interesting that it appears here as a gamer’s emoticon – it’s been part of my Livejournal culture (mostly female / media fandom) for years, and it’s inevitable that I wonder if it’s women gamers who brought it to the game world…

    I’ve never seen <$ as defined here (clever!), but we routinely use <3 alone - which we also write out the "words" for, be them lessthanthree or asscone; these can be verbs of course, so that in the same way that you can have "I [heart] NYC" you also find "I lessthanthree you so much" (ironically, of course). I personally have a habit of hyperbole, so my <3 have become <3333333333333333 in some groups, and <3456789 in others, to convey over the top affection.. And <@2#$@3456#&%#!! in extreme cases, when profanity seems required to convey the strength of the sentiment. I am completely unoriginal in this - by which I mean, it's really widespread in my online communities. /amateur unobjective e-anthropoly

  6. I’d missed one, obviously… Here’s the missing bit (nothing fascinating, but I am a completist).

    I’ve never seen <$ as defined here (clever!), but we routinely use <3 alone – which we also write out the “words” for, be them lessthanthree or asscone; these can be verbs of course, so that in the same way that you can have “I [heart] NYC” you also find “I lessthanthree you so much” (ironically, of course).

  7. Yeah, my Livejournal/muck/furry circles have been using <3 for at least three years. And writing it out as ‘lessthanthree’ or ‘asscone’, using </3 for ‘don’t love you’/’broken heart’ (context depending). There’s also using &hearts; as well, for a &heart;.

    I have exactly one emoticon image in my instant messenger. <3 becomes a cute little heart I drew. I loathe most smiley graphics, but that one I like.

  8. \o/ has, I think, been independently “invented” by at least three people I know. Personally, my moment of insight came after an extended IRC session led to the realisation that in Courier, lol looks like a little dude waving for help as he drowns. Possibly under a tsunami of insecure backslapping digital nonsense.

    Anyway, \o/ seemed much more cheerful as well as being less ambiguous, so I started using that.

  9. I was wondering why I was seeing a lot of sentence fragments here (including in the original post, which ends “Variants include <4 is just brilliant." Firefox is turning the less than-slash-three emoticon into the start of an HTML tag, which isn't closed until the next greater-than sign.

    Wacky.

  10. Aw, bugger — it did it to my comment, too. It should have read:

    I was wondering why I was seeing a lot of sentence fragments here (including in the original post, which ends “Variants include <4 is just brilliant.” Firefox is turning the less than-slash-three emoticon into the start of an HTML tag, which isn’t closed until the next greater-than sign.

    Wacky.

  11. The problem would be the implied ‘evolution’ of the topic, an expanded history of its development and usage. The link author is just explaining their basic experience with the emote.

  12. Yes, this is far from a wonderful thing.

    I love gaming, and I particularly love the lexicon associated with it. This is the most superficial mention of the subculture’s rich emoticon vocabulary that I can fathom. Not to mention, the bigoted discussion of “gay elves” from the linked blog is pure stereotype and not something I care to peruse.

    As if that weren’t enough, C.D. jumped in after 8 minutes flat to defend this lackluster post of a lackluster write-up on “lessthanthree.”

  13. I always thought it was an emoticon meaning tea-bagging, because emoticons are traditionally viewed by tilting the head to the left, and it was the only thing that made sense to me. Go figure.

  14. i actually always thought they were little lips, pursed to kiss the thing you were loving. the sideways heart thing never occurred to me!

  15. Huh, now with Teresa responding, it looks like the good folks at BoingBoing don’t respond well to legit criticism.

  16. @20,@26:

    You’re right. Clearly we’re giving away the wrong flavor of free ice cream around here. Thanks for the correction. From now on, I’ll adhere to whatever set of editorial guidelines you’ve hallucinated for me.

    Also: everyone who posted constructive things about how this subject interests you, you’re wrong. It’s not interesting. We’ve been told. Adhere to the hallucinated guidelines, or the Internet Tough Guys will give you a serious talking to. It’s “legit criticism.”

  17. Never seen <4 before, but I have heard of 31336 (or 1336) used to describe someone who isn’t quite “leet”.

  18. My favorite comment so far must be #7 Alden’s. If I ever meet a girl who responds like that, she’ll have stolen my heart (or should I say <3) forever. I’ve never really liked that emoticon though. I’ve seen it for maybe the past 2 or 3 years, but it always bugged me that it is backwards. I’ve noticed a trend lately of writing other emoticons backwards too, like (-:, which just feels wrong somehow. 0_o It makes me feel dirty.

    Anyway, not much substance to this post, but the fact that folks are bothering to comment on it says something. If BB isn’t an appropriate forum to have these kinds of discussions, I don’t know what is.

  19. I searched the meaning of the emoticon. I got my answer (thanks cory). I’m confused about what there is to criticize.

  20. Silly me. I’m such a typical guy – I thought “<3" was sideways boobs. Well, I guess I can say I <3 boobs! (Still, I'm feeling kind of silly for not catching the meaning when "boobs" clearly had no context where I've seen this.)

  21. True, this article’s title is misleading, but it does tell what the <3 symbol means. Though, admittedly, all the comments are more insightful than the article itself. I'd never heard of <4, and 2.999999 is funny. I typically use ♥ though.

Comments are closed.