So, Maryland really isn't considered the south, but it IS south of the Mason Dixon Line and it WAS a slave state for those purposes we'll say I grew up in the south and with that came the lovely phrase, "Bless your heart." As an extremely sympathetic child I would hear that and think that the person saying it had a heart of gold and pained at the thought of the intended's misery. As an adult I realize it's just a way of saying whatever you want and then getting away with it by tacking something on the end.
"That nose of her's enters a room before she does, bless her heart."
"That baby is one of the ugliest I've ever seen, bless his heart."
It kind of reminds me of when I was growing up and we used the word "psych" to get out of being caught in the act. "No, best friend! Sure I called you the meanest jerkiest friend in the world, but you didn't stick around long enough to hear me say psych!"
Along with the internet came a new wave of communication and getting away with saying things to hurt people's feelings without the guilt. Enter the semi-colon followed by a parenthesis. Get it? It's a wink! Whoever thought this up is brilliant...condensing the phrase of bless your heart into two small clicks of the fingers - three if you count the shift key.
Most recently on Facebook, Rick was told by another person during a political discussion that she didn't have time to debate something because she was too busy working hard to raise five good little capitalists ;) Notice the use of the semi-colon? It was ok to infer that she was raising her children correctly while Rick was reading from Stalin's greatest hits to his because of that amazing punctuation mark!
Let me show you another example...
You're a jackhole - totally rude.
You're a jackhole ;) - see? Cute and just kidding.
People can let you know with just a few small taps of the fingers how upset they are that your house was destroyed in an explosion and while you were trying to get away you ran over your dog and forgot your cat by simply typing :( Which interpreted means, "Seriously? Get over yourself. You think that's hard? Try dealing with my life!"
I'm guilty of using these myself, I just wish someone would come up with one that represented "You need a Diet Coke" or "Good hell, grow up you freak". Let me know if you think of any.