I Simply Love To Put A Little ‘X’ After Everything

Designed by Kristine Romano.
In 2024, we live a good deal of our lives on the internet. It influences everything, from what we talk and care about to the minutiae of how we function in the world. (Apple Pay, for example, has been equal parts unfortunate and seismic for me as someone who is both obsessed with buying stuff and who, when asked about my hobbies, will seriously respond: "Going on my phone.") 
I’d say that the internet’s biggest continuing impact on me, however, is in how I express myself. Like a lot of the online-pilled, my brain has been rotted by memes, which have become cornerstones of the way I talk to my friends who suffer from the same affliction. Phrases like "Sorry to this man" and "Whats going on with mycareer" might as well be famous adages passed down through the generations for the amount that I use them. In the last couple of years, however, no internet affectation has wormed its way more solidly into the way I communicate than a single character, in which so much – humour, affection and piss-taking – is contained: 'x'. I am, in other words, addicted to the act of putting a little kiss at the end of every single statement I type. 
Writing or typing 'x' (or even 'x x x x' as I am now wont to do) after a message or a note or any form of communication more than pre-dates the internet, of course. The origin of the convention can’t be pinned down, though your friend and mine, the Oxford English Dictionary, says that its earliest recorded use is in the 1878 novel Seaforth by Florence Montgomery (a proto-hun!). I’ve been doing it all my life on birthday cards and in texts to my mum but I definitely picked up my current, almost constant, use of it online. 
Initially, it began as pretty much everything I do tends to – that is, as a laugh. Around 2019 and 2020, hun culture and its true nexus, Facebook Marketplace ("Would you do these for $6 babe? PMing you xxx"), boomed on the internet. The live laugh love lifestyle turned from the butt of disparaging jokes from some (misogynistic!) corners into something considered with widespread, genuine fondness – think of the outpouring for the beveragino mums – and little xs started to pop up everywhere. I was powerless to resist.
I began to send my friends hungover texts such as "just threw up x", the kiss intended as an incongruous punchline to the abjection that preceded it. I still do this now because it is, after all, an important part of the evolution of the way the sweet, well-intentioned little kiss is now used on the internet. This is the kind of ironic application we tend to see a lot in the way we talk online: take 'slay', which might as well be a comma for the degree to which it now punctuates my speech, even though the word’s reemergence online has pretty much come about as a joke due to its overuse by brands. 
Where the act of putting a little kiss is concerned, I have grown to genuinely love it so much that I now also regularly message "hello x", "how are you x" and "can you bring me a McFlurry on your way round please xx". I recently began a to-do list – for my eyes only – by typing "Thursday x" in my phone’s Notes app. Just looks nicer for future me, doesn’t it? 
A big part of the appeal of a little kiss is also how specifically British it is (though Australians give it a good nudge, too). Its current popularity is certainly a result of this too: the hun culture social media accounts where its new usage abounded initially are known for their celebration of UK institutions like EastEnders. In an old job, I had regular communications with US colleagues and would – before I explained what an honour it is to receive a typed kiss, obviously – confuse them with this strange little 'x' at the end of emails. 
The practice is thought of as a bit of an oddity outside of the UK, Ireland and Australia. In my research for this piece, I found a website called, which very comically advises that the 'x' is "a way to make the tone of any written message more friendly" but that you should "be careful using it on messages where it might seem like you are flirting or being too friendly with someone you don’t know".
I think it speaks to the specificities of the way people in these parts talk to each other. We can be wry, knowing and sarcastic but, in general, there’s always a bit of warmth there. A little kiss is a shared joke, a cute gesture or both, so even though its meaning has widened and grown since it was claimed by the terminally ironic internet, the intimacy it expresses ultimately remains intact, however you choose to use it. And honestly, I think that’s lovely x
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