When emoticons go bad

My wife and I recently changed internet providers and I had not yet figured out how to activate the emoticons. In case you are not in the know, emoticons are those faces you can insert into your email texts to show emotion- smiley faces, winking faces, sad faces, etc. My first thought was ďoh, no! What am I going to do without my emoticons? I can't go back to using parenthesis, commas and colons". Then I remembered I had been sending emails for years without the need to use emoticons and got along just fine. I do see the purpose for them. Since we as a society communicate more by email than by phone or in person, it can cause communication problems and hurt feelings when there may not have been any previously. People tend to be a bit more bold behind a computer than over the phone or in person and can come off as rude. And aside from that, sometimes reading something in print can sound and feel a lot more harsh than when someone is speaking and you can hear their tone of voice or see their expression in person. Hence, the emoticon was created to avoid possible misunderstandings. I canít tell you how many times I have heard someone say ďman, I got this nasty email from so-and-soĒ and then when I saw the email it didnít seem nasty at all, but it certainly felt that way to the person receiving it. Emoticons can help soften the blow, but they are not the solution to everything, mind you. I think we still have to watch what we say in print. I have a friend who for awhile would send me these emails laced with stinging sarcasm about how pathetic my baseball team was compared to his, and then he would slap a smiley face emoticon at the end of it, as if that somehow could take away all the pain he just inflicted on me. It didnít. The emoticon simply does not wield that kind of power. To clarify, here are a few examples of what I would call proper and improper use of the emoticon-

Proper use- Have a nice day. :-)
Misuse- I meant to tell you the other day when you were talking to me, your breath was so bad I nearly passed out :-)

Proper use- Missed you at rehearsal last night. :-(
Improper use- Missed you at rehearsal again last night. One more unexcused absence and you will no longer be a member of the choir :-(

As you can see, in the examples of misuse, the emoticons were unable to diffuse the power of the written word. Iím still feeling the tension.

Well, thatís really about all I have to say regarding emoticons.

Have a crappy day. :-)

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