What’s the best way to type _()_/ – The Atlantic

Posted: October 11, 2021 at 10:53 am

Updated, 2:20 p.m.

All hail _()_/.

In its 11 strokes, the symbol encapsulates what its like to be an individual on the Internet. With raised arms and a half-turned smile, it exudes the melancholia, the malaise, the acceptance, and (finally) the embrace of knowing that somethings wrong on the Internet and you cant do anything about it.

As Kyle Chayka writes in a new history of the symbol at The Awl, the meaning of the the shruggie is always two-, if not three- or four-, fold. _()_/ represents nihilism, bemused resignation, and a Zen-like tool to accept the chaos of universe. It is Sisyphus in unicode. I use it at least 10 times a day.

For a long time, however, I used it with some difficulty. Unlike better-known emoticons like 🙂 or ;), _()_/ borrows characters from the Japanese syllabary called katakana. That makes it a kaomoji, a Japanese emoticon; it also makes it, on Western alphabetical keyboards at least, very hard to type. But then I found a solution, and it saves me having to google smiley sideways shrug every time I want to quickly rail at the worlds inherent lack of meaning.

My solution is also only possible on a Mac and/or iPhone. (Im sure there is a Windows fix, but I dont know what it is. Let me know if you do. On Twitter, Justin Jacoby Smith recommends Auspex, a free utility for Windows that mimics the Mac and iPhones system-wide text-replacement function. And the best app like this for Android seems to be Textspansion. Both apps should allow for easy shrugging.)

On a Mac

1. Open System Preferences, then go to the Keyboard preference pane.

2. Using the menu at the top of the pane, go to the Text pane.

3. Okay, so youre going to add one of those text replacements. Click the little plus at the bottom of the menu, and a new field will appear in the Replace column.

4. This is when you make the most important decision of all: What do you want to type to invoke the shrug? Myself, I type these characters: &shrug;. Ampersand-shrug-semicolon. The syntax recalls HTML escape characters, and, more important, its never something I type in the course of my daily life. Ampersand-word-semicolon doesnt appear elsewhere in standard English.

6. Ta-da! Youre done. Whenever you type your abbreviated-shrug, the full _()_/ should appear, anywhere on your system. If youre like me, youll _()_/ in Gchat over and over again, until the symbol ceases to have any meaning, and, like lololol, means merely, I had a reaction of some sort to that stimulus.

On an iPhone

0. First of all, if you sync keyboard preferences between your Mac and your iPhone, youre done! The shruggie will seamlessly sync and you shant need to stress. But if youre flying solo with an iPhone, heres how it works:

1. Open the phones Settings app. Then youll follow a set of menus: General > Keyboard > Shortcuts.

2. Theres a little plus sign in the top right corner of the screen. Tap it.

3. Okay, its the same as on a Mac! In the phrase textfield, type the shruggy dude: _()_/.

4. In the shortcut field, enter a set of characters youre never going to need to type otherwise. (I like &shrug;, ampersand-shrug-semicolon.)

5. Save it, and youre done! Now you too can mourn the worlds meaninglessness on-the-go.

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What's the best way to type _()_/ - The Atlantic

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