In the 1970s, a committee of experts headed up by astronomer Carl Sagan began working on what would become the two golden records sent out far into space aboard the Voyager probes. These records were designed to — in the limited space available — communicate as much as possible about the human race in a way that could be understood by any aliens that happen to find them. They included recordings of different languages from Earth history, a map of the solar system showing the Earth’s location, anatomical diagrams of human beings, lists of mathematical equations, and photos of life on Earth. It was a massive project — an attempt to convey everything about us to someone that might be nothing at all like us. To me, MSN Messenger’s ‘winks’ were the exact opposite of this this project.
Here’s a refresher if these strange things have not retained prominence of place in your memories somehow:
The immensely difficult task of compiling the Voyager records was about identifying what specifically needed to be communicated, and choosing the single right image, sound or diagram for each identified item. MSN’s winks were not like that. Taken as a whole, it is unclear what they are trying to communicate.
They are certainly not trying to cover the entire spectrum of human emotions, but neither are they just there to permit a few functional tasks, like getting someone’s attention or expressing approval. They are not united by an art style or theme or purpose or anything else. They seem almost random. Haphazard. Watched as a series, they seem almost like an exquisite corpse — something made by a group of individuals who are largely unaware of what the others are doing.
The winks were useless and strange. They were, of course, used only by perverts. The following is the list of original MSN Messenger winks ranked from least to most perverted.
14. The humble light bulb
Not at all perverted. Completely useless, certainly, but nonetheless free from perversion.
13. The cranky guitar man
Oh he’s mad! He’s so mad! The eyes have a slight pervert energy, putting this slightly above the pure, unbesmirched light bulb.
12. Mr UFO
This fellow doesn’t seem too bad, does he? Wrong! He is using his other hand to masturbate. Filthy creature!
11. The cretinous, lollygagging smiley face
Creep! If anyone ever looked at me like this in real life I would punch them in the mouth.
10. Horrible banana (?) lady
What are you? How can I understand you? Which cruel, forgotten God breathed life into you and set you loose on this world?
9. Rude teen
Knock it off! There is, honestly, simply no need for it.
8. Chibi Fred Durst
What the fuck is this guy’s problem? Jesus christ.
7. Grief-stricken child
There is simply no reason for anyone to post this.
6. The frog pervert
A play in three acts: 1. Who is this friendly fellow? 2. Oh my — he’s hungry! 3. Urgh! No! Begone, foul pest! Why do you gaze at me so? Wretch! Wretch!
5. The heart
It may have the appearance of something quite innocuous but, much like the Black Spot in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, this image has never been sent to anyone who genuinely wanted to receive it.
4. Crude sideways gentleman
Do not reveal your tongue to me in this manner. EVER.
3. Big smooch
A hideously cursed animation. Sent only by that one weird guy who has a crush on you and is otherwise nice enough but is completely unable to notice that you don’t want anything more than a friendship — a guy who will tell you immediately, albeit sheepishly, if he has a sex dream about you. Not good!
2. Awful pervert pig
Imagine if this creature was real. I don’t want to, and thus I shall not.
1. This cunt
Do not worship me! Save your praise for Satan, loathsome orb! Prostate yourself before the Great Horn’d One, you serene, winking demon.