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<3 – from online to offline September 19, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Chat, Language, Youngsters, Youth Culture.

Today : – ) (the smiley) can celebrate its 25th birthday. On account of that I want to share a little story about a related symbol, the heart: <3.

❤ is a symbol that especially youth use when they are communicating online. I have seen many examples on Arto where youngsters use the symbol when they are writing praising messages about each other, e.g. like this message from one 16-year old girl to another:


( Translation:
DYRVIG <3<3:
Hi my always lovely honey ❤
You know what? (; I love you – extremely much, and even more that that!
You mean the world to me! You are always so extremely lovely. So great, funny, splendid,
sweet, beautiful, charming, wonderful, caring, great… yes, I could keep on going, beautiful.

The other day I was on my way home from a lecture talking about the very same subject; how youth communicate online. When I was waiting for the train at the station I saw these messages written on two posters right next to each other:


( Translation:
I love you
my Nour! ❤
You are everything, for me I:
-for ever!!
For ever yours Briina!! (:


( Translation:
Sabrina? ❤
– I love you!!
My Briina, for ever. (<)
You are my second best girlfriend!
For ever, baby :-*
#For ever yours Palle!!<3

Notice how the heart symbols have transformed from online communication to “offline messages” at the train station 🙂




1. Anne-Mette - September 19, 2007

Hehe – that is really interesting!
❤ from Anne-Mette 😀

2. Thomas Ryberg - September 19, 2007

Yes very much – and it is also interesting (in a sort of meta-way) how various technologies – in this case mobile-cameras – change the possibilities for doing research. One can do sort of everywhere or stumble-upon ethnography 🙂

3. Anne-Mette - September 30, 2007

That is true Thomas – and it would be interesting to dig up more “stumbled upon” findings like this.

I keep thinking about this online/offline sign – I think that it is such a good example that online communication is not just used as a (poorer) substitute for “real” communication.

4. Malene Charlotte Larsen - October 1, 2007

Thanks for the comments, Anne-Mette and Thomas. I very much agree with you. And it is a nice metaphor for my PhD project focusing on how ‘online’ and ‘offline’ actions merge when youth are using social networking sites.

I too would very much like to see more examples. At least I will remember to bring my mobile camera whenever ‘on the road’ 😀

5. The online and offline symbol of a heart « My PhD Blog - March 6, 2008

[…] I have mentioned before, it seems that the online way of communicating has affected the offline. Symbols that most often […]

6. Zoleloluece - November 27, 2008

I made with photoshop glitter myspace pics.
take a look at them:
Thanks 4 your website 😉 xoxoxo

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