smiley face winky face emoticons

Please do not kiss me in an e-mail. Don’t “zip your lip”. Don’t tell me you’re feeling angelic or devilish.

Or … maybe you can. And should.

This piece from The New York Times about “the use of emoticons in correspondence” got me thinking. We’re all using smiley faces in our e-mails. And that’s a business change that I believe is a great thing.

;-)  Or do I?

My kids, the same people who post every mundane (or sometimes controversial and needs-to-be-kept-more-private) detail of their lives on Twitter, have told me how much they hate when I pepper my texts with emoticons. They’ve even said it comes off like I’m some sort of giggling schoolgirl.

But does it?

E-mail and text are way too cold. It’s exceedingly difficult to convey emotion in plain text, and even when you try it’s easy to mean one thing but be heard differently. I remember I once typed a couple of words in all caps for emphasis in an e-mail and the person I wrote to complained that I was “shouting” at him. This was a long time ago, in an era when email really WAS “plain text only”; I couldn’t use bold, italics, underlining, or any other sort of formatting in that e-mail, and I figured I was communicating voice inflection. See how I capitalized “was”? I don’t hear “shouting” there.

So while I’m not good with overuse of the emoticon for conveyance of a terribly wide range of emotions employing them, I think the occasional smiley face or frowny face is useful. And it really is, by definition, business change. It’s not rude like mistimed texting, and it isn’t one of those things that only younger people can do, right?

You agree, don’t you? :-(


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