To some, emoticons may seem like a relatively modern part of what is near already considered our everyday lives, surrounded by digitised methods of communication and entertainment. Take a look at the above excerpt from Robert Herrick’s 1648 poem To Fortune – you might be surprised.
Literary critics including Levi Stahl suggest that the colon-close-bracket smiley face could be nothing more than an error in his own copy of the book Hesperides despite it immediately following the word ‘smiling’. After checking a two-volume edition of Herrick’s work recently republished by Oxford University Press, he found the print unchanged.
Since, Stahl has surmised that a deliberate 1600s emoticon is entirely possible, noting Herrick’s poetry as usually humorous and cleverly written.
A journal on technology and society – The New Atlantis – indicated that the parenthesis doesn’t exist in another early copy of the poem, making the find much more likely to have been “inserted by a modern editor. ”
Other claimants to the sparkly First Emoticon Ever title outdate this current find by around 200 years, presuming it wasn’t a typo. Today, so many emoticons, memes and other fads take over the internet with such ferocity and speed that it’s sometimes a little hard to keep up.