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November 22, 2014

Always vaunted, those iconoclasts. They ain’t part of the herd. They know their own mind and don’t get drawn into believing all that they see and thinking it’s great. Balls – they’ve got ‘em! Not for them the emasculated trudge through electronic ephemera, liking everything that’s laid before them. NoSireeBob. They ain’t afraid to buck the trend. If it looks like shit, talks like shit and probably smells like shit too, as far as they’re concerned, then they’re gonna tell it like it is.

I’ll admit it. I’m one, always have been. I’ve never understood the attraction of most of what can only be described as ‘popular,’ and I mean that in the most pejorative of senses I hasten to add. The way all that’s mundane is joyfully hoovered up by all and sundry – who, staggeringly, appear satisfied after its consumption – never ceases to amaze and appal me.

These days, we’ve got a whole new bunch of icons that seem to hold us in thrall. Those little fellas on every interface we spend so many hours interacting with. Those smiley faces. Shocked faces, sad faces, borderline-racist smiley Chinese guy faces. Weeping faces. Animated weeping faces. Faces with shades on for fuck’s sake! It’s like a plague. Like some alien race has quietly descended and inculcated itself into the very essence of what it is to be a 21st Century human being.

There’s been a death in the family. Whether you think such announcements on social media are crass in the extreme is neither here nor there. But the intervention of a ‘friend’ who’s so moved, so concerned and so keen to show that they care that they go to the great trouble of posting a sad face with animated streaming tears and a succession of heart-shapes as a comment encapsulates much of what drives me to despair in this superficial existence of ours.

Come on, they’re just a bit of fun you miserable old git, I’m sure some would say. They may even point to that hilarious pile of shit that appears on many a status update. Or the little Gremlin-type thing. Or a host of other cutesy little constructions of some foul icon-evolving mastermind somewhere out there in the ether. But I’m not convinced. Not taken in by their shorthand substitution for the use of this beautiful language with which we are blessed. I hate them all.

There’s one in particular that I’ve developed utmost hatred for. I could cheerfully strangle the virtually-androgynous little bastard. It mocks me. It pulls funny faces as a patronising precursor to its subsequent, humiliating exposé of my all-too limited vocabulary. Always bleeding right, that’s its problem. And it lacks grace, in my view. Much as it may try to dress up its innate sense of superiority in apparently chummy little interjections, I know what it’s really thinking, and it’s thinking just how much cleverer than me it really is.

It lives in the land of Scrabble and it goes by the name of Teacher. It’s a square little face – kind of David Coulthardesque if you get my drift – and yellow in colour. It wears glasses, probably to give it an air of authority, a learned look that’ll allow it to get away with its sarcastic superciliousness and prevent it from being given the hefty smack its behaviour deserves.

It’s always got an opinion as well. And that’s my main problem with it. For instance: you’ve just played a word, let’s say it’s something like ‘QUEER’ for argument’s sake. You’ve scored 46 points and you’re well chuffed with yourself. First it’s the facial expression. It assumes a sort of ironic smile, with a knowing arch of its eyebrows. Then it’ll say, “Hmmmm, let me show you what you’ve missed,” and proceed to lay down ‘REPIQUED’ on a triple-word score for a soul-destroying 149.

Even when you think you really couldn’t possibly have scored more it’ll quickly kick you back into the sub-educated gutter it personally thinks you inhabit. You lay down ‘DISTRACT’ and score 74 points. It assumes a condescendingly surprised look, and says: “Outstanding, that’s really tough to beat.” It then lays down the same word in a different location that encompasses five new two-letter words, a triple-word score that, idiot that you are you failed to notice, and scores 114 points. It’s a bastard, and I’m sick of it. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it sullies my enjoyment of the game completely, but it really is like having a particularly annoying stranger leaning over your shoulder and saying, “you didn’t want to do that.”

Mercifully, it recently disappeared from the internet version of the game as a free ‘service.’ You can pay for it, apparently, but why anyone would is beyond me. It’d be like paying to be annoyed, paying to be belittled, paying to be shown up for the dullard you are. It’s still on the smartphone app, though, so I’ll be cursed by that little smart-arse for quite some time I’d imagine. To paraphrase Harold Shand: “Icons? I’ve shit ‘em.”


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