Emoticons ;)

By , October 6, 2009 10:12 am

I’ve noticed recently that I’m using a lot more emoticons in emails, texts, and IMs than I used to…  :-0

I’m not totally sure where it’s coming from, but I think it’s an increased awareness of how limited written communication is at easily and simply expressing emotion. =(

Adding emoticons to short messages can significantly change their tone:

When will you get here?


When will you get here? :^)

The former is ambiguous. Am I mad or impatient that you’re not here yet? Eager to see you? Indifferent? The latter gives a much clearer sense that I’m looking forward to seeing you, and not mad about your absence.

At the same time, emoticons – and the more recent trend of graphically subbing in images: :P – feels so casual and lazy; an easy excuse to avoid actually writing what you mean:

When will you get here? :^)


When will you get here? I’m so excited to see you!

I think part of the problem is the ridiculous pricing scheme for text messaging, discouraging the use of complete sentences and detailed communication. But texting (and IMing and emailing) are also such easy forms of communication that laziness shouldn’t be particularly surprising.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this, because I simultaneously dislike the trend to use emoticons over precise language and like their ability to easily communicate the emotional intent of a snippet of text. (-_-)

Any thoughts from the peanut gallery?

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