I'm not very good at using the computer other than what I know (blogging). I cannot figure out my cell phone at all! In Japan cell phones are a necessity and they are especially used for text messaging. More people send e-mails by cell phone than they do by computer I think.
Occasionally I will get an e-mail and at the end are the little "pictures" that one can make with keyboard symbols. The official word for these are emoticons. Did you know that emoticons are different depending on the culture?
It seems somone has researched emotions and facial expressions and has come up with a theory that Westerners express themselves and read other people's expressions by looking at facial features in equal balance but maybe focusing on a person's eyes and mouth. On the other hand East Asians express emotions with their eyes and the mouth isn't really an important part of the facial expression. Japanese will hide their mouths when they laugh or even when they cry and it does make it difficult for foreigners to catch what emotions are being conveyed. The researchers went on to explain that this tendency is even evident when looking at the differences in the emoticons that each culture uses.
Here are a couple emoticons that get used often in Japanese text messaging.
(^_^) means "happy".
(;_;) means "sad".
(>_<) means "frustrated."
(,_,) means "disappointed".
(^_^') means "nervous".
In each of these cases the symbol for the mouth never changes but the symbols for the eyes change to express an emotion.
The Western emoticons are
:-D for "happy".
:'-( means "sad".
: - O is supposed to mean "surprise".
The Western symbols used for the mouth change according to the emotion rather than the eyes.
And of course there is a whole other realm of emoticons that can be made in combination with the Japanese-Chinese characters that I don't even know I can write using my American computer...
ε=ε=ε=┌(;*´Д`)ﾉ Can you see this? This is supposed to mean running or hurrying.
（･∀･)つ⑩ This is supposed to mean carrying money. The little figure has a ten yen coin.
And this is my favorite. Can you guess what this means?
I'm afraid Westerners aren't going to get this one... This is a figure bowing deeply with his hands on the floor on either side of his head. This is used when someone is apologizing such as
"I'm so sorry I have to cancel out on lunch today. Please forgive me." m(_ _)m
Just another cultural difference that has popped up in this era of cyber messaging...