Spike & I recently had a heated debate regarding the appropriateness of emoticons in the workplace. What follows is our point: counterpoint. We invite you to grace us with your thoughts in the comments.
VeeDub: Emoticons exist for a very good reason ” people are sensitive. Sometimes, given the chance to read a few lines in a sincere or sarcastic manner, the reader will jump to the worst interpretation possible no matter how well they know the author. Please imagine the below examples of a closing to an informal internal email:
Option 1: “Now, get to work already!”
Option 2: “Now, get to work already! ;-)”
While both use the same words, it is clear that I am only half serious in the latter. The emoticon can be employed as passive aggressive shorthand. The sentence with the emoticon communicates ‘I am not upset with you, and we certainly don’t need to have a talk about our feelings, but you need to get down to business, OK?’ without having to get that explicit.
Emoticons have a rich history dating back to 1857 and a morse code telegraph operator manual stating that the number ’73’ could be employed to express love and kisses (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emoticons). There was a need then with the telegraph, and it is even greater in today’s fragmented communication landscape with its explosion of misinterpretation opportunities. Sadly, TXT isn’t much further along than the 1857 telegraph in its ability to communicate emotion.
In short, emoticons are necessary. You may find them a necessary evil, but that makes them no less necessary.
Okay, maybe not. But come on. When those semicolons and parentheses and whatever else show up in an otherwise intelligent email or other electronic conversation, it dumbs down the entire exchange. You might as well write LOL or ROTFLMFAO or some crap like that. When did we get to a place where we need to use symbols to express emotions? Are you really that bad and/or lazy of a writer? I don’t recall seeing any of those nasty little things in any of my English or Journalism classes back in the day at Baylor. Do you think Hemingway would’ve used them? I kinda doubt it.
I’m not saying that people who use emoticons are dumb. I’m sayin’ that emoticons are dumb. I’m not a teenager. So don’t write to me like I’m one. They aren’t necessary ” especially when it comes to written exchanges. Words are. So use words.