Monday, August 22, 2011

:-) You tell me: The Emoticon (-:

Ah, the emoticon, a few keystrokes that come together to form some approximation of a facial expression.

No one knows who actually invented the emoticon, but its first use online was apparently in 1982, by a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He suggested the use of ":-)" to indicate a joke was being made.

And now? THEY ARE EVERYWHERE. They've gone way beyond ASCII symbols, too. Now we have faces that hug or wink or leer or drink whisky and fall over. On the Absolute Write boards, my particular favorite is one that eats popcorn while wearing a wide-eyed expression, signifying the poster is a avidly watching whatever argument is going on. We have dancing bananas, too. You name it, and it probably exists as an emoticon somewhere.

My friends, we are writers. We're supposed to be able to move people with our words alone. So here's my question (ok, if you know me, you know there's actually going to be more than one):

What are your thoughts about emoticons? Do you use them?

If you do, are you unabashed about it, or do you feel a bit sheepish?

When you think of them, do you feel like this?


Or like this?
I'll be posting my thoughts about emoticons on Wednesday.

And of course, because it's Monday, go check out Lydia's blog and enter her 900 followers contest, and then peruse Laura's Mental Health Monday post, where she's talking about good mental health!

33 comments:

  1. Of course I use emoticons from time to time:) lol. I like the smile faces or the wink faces. I don't know what else we could do, as writers, instead of the easy way out. I suppose we could write *smiling* or *wink* but I'm thinking that lacks a little pizzaz

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  2. I love how people get creative with symbols to make emoticons. So many funny ones out there!

    I used to be sheepish using them, but now I use them all the time, pretty much sticking to happy face, frowny face, wink face, and tongue-sticking-out face.

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  3. As someone who has gotten in a heated couple's argument because of misunderstood tone of voice in an e-mail, I am a big fan of emoticons.

    I think they have their place, of course. I try very hard not to include them when I'm querying agents, for example ;-)

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  4. hi miss sarah! for me i like the ones that move. i use them lots and on my rocketmail theres bunchs of them. theres even one that shows the little face throwing up. ack! i didnt ever use that one yet. mostly i use the smily face with a little heart on it. i dont put them in my writing just only in a email or i draw my own on a card or in a letter.
    ...hugs and smiles from lenny :)

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  5. \o/ <-- yay!
    o/ <-- question!
    *<:) <--par-tay hat!

    Yea. I like emoticons. A lot. :)

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  6. I agree with Adam. They're great for showing context, but they do have their place. I like seeing new creative ones.

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  7. I adore the ones that move. They're as addictive as glittery fabric - not terribly useful in the real world, but so much fun.

    When I'm tired, or just lazy, they add nuance when the words seem flat.

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  8. i actually understand why some do not like emoticons... or txt-eze.

    there is this opinion out there that using such things is a crutch. that people are going to forget how to spell and/or become completely inarticulate.

    that's why adam's comment was sooooo right on!

    there are appropriate places and times for shorthand and extremely inappropriate times.

    when it comes to blogging or commenting, i'm not ashamed to admit that i emoticon, abbreviate, exclamation point, caps, and repeat letters. the point of it is that there is not enough time to visit half the blogs i want to visit, so i'm commenting as quickly as i can.

    being a relatively slow typer and an individual who does not think in words, but in images and concepts- writing takes me serious amounts of time.

    emoticons- especially the kind ms. ortiz showed above- are actually pretty darn creative. i do not think using them, understanding them, or creating them is something to inspire ridicule.

    i'm a big fan of creative expression. and i do not believe that people need to trap their creative expression into the box of societal approval. i think that creativity grows the more you use it, and when a person tries to restrict their minds to that box, pressure builds, and builds, and builds, until the box explodes.

    i don't know. i get annoyed when people get all hoity-toity and look down at each other for ridiculous reasons. and i hear a lot of negativity about emoticons and text-eze from people at work...

    i think everyone needs to be educated in the proper formal way of handling language. but i think it's incredibly silly to ban the use of shorthand for something as rapid-paced as blogging. :)

    i know i'm babbling... i'm really just trying to postpone cleaning house... awman! now i'm going to have to get to it! ugh! :P
    :)

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  9. omg, I use them ALL THE TIME. I remember that old (OLD) email that went around back in the dark ages that had the smiley key. Remember that?

    :-) smile
    :) midget smile

    I use them all the time, and I find it helps lighten otherwise inflectionless and often misunderstood electronic communications~ :D

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  10. Okay, I can use the smile, the frown, the grin, and the wink, but when it gets beyond that, I'm really lost. I have to ask my daughter to interpret for me.

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  11. I agree with Adam/etc. Context in emails is the primary reason I use them, but it also bothers me when people use super shortened words. 'cause I'm dyslexic, trying to figure out what they're saying gives me a major headache (literally), so I've told everyone who texts me not to use them 'cause I'll just ignore/delete the message.

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  12. I use them as much as possible! :D

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  13. Though I'm aware it may bug people, I can't seem to stop doing this :D I think it's because I smile so much in general I have to somehow convey that through the internet. LOL <-- you should do a post on those too!

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  14. Nice to have a lighter post from you, Sarah. I occasionally use a couple of regular emoticons, unabashedly. They're fun and they sometimes save space. However, I do lament the fact that such things replace the need for words. As writers, we should be able to express ourselves pretty well without pictures. And I usually do!

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  15. It's Monday morning, so I will honest and say my emoticon needs to have droopy eyes, hair sticking out in every direction, and a can of diet coke in its hand. They don't have one of those? Darn. See, this is why I don't use them often. That, and there's just too much truth with an emoticon like that. Don't judge me for my coke addiction! LOL!

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  16. Emoticons are great for email or other short online communications, because these forms of communication often come off as curt or terse or incomplete. The emoticon makes sure the reader gets the right nuance. I like them a lot, for example, when I need to tie off a thread in email correspondence but there's nothing really left to say, but I don't want to seem rude. Just a simple :-) is all it takes, for example, if the thread was upbeat.

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  17. I use a lot of smiley faces. It feels more like a real conversation that way. It seems to help convey the appropriate emotion I am looking for and stave off misunderstandings that can occur.

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  18. I use them all the time with friends on FB, Twitter & Email. But I would never use them in a professional setting.

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  19. Words are pictures that mean something. So are emoticons. All things being equal, it's all about what you want to communicate and who you want to communicate it to.

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  20. I adore emoticons. :)

    It's a writer's job to make sure everything s/he writes is articulate -- but certain tones don't carry across very in words. It's the same way nobody's reading of a book is the same. Emoticons are crutches. Most of the times, they're unnecessary. But sometimes, they're crucial.

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  21. I love them. They're fun to use, and often come in quite handy when I can't find words to express exactly how I'm feeling! ;-)

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  22. Guilty! BUT...but there's no sarcasm font for emails (okay, for novels either *sigh*) and I've been in one too many misunderstandings w/o my emoticons!! O_o :p

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  23. I like emoticons. Not in my actual writing like my WIP or short stories, of course. It works in small doses. Like this blog comment for instance. There's only so much that we can say without turning a comment into a blogpost. So emoticons help people see that hey, I was only joking, or being silly, or coy, and whatever idiotic thing it was I said is not to be taken seriously. Otherwise, people might take up arms against me. :) <--see?

    Also, because facial expressions and body language are removed from an online comment or forum, people have different ways of interpreting how the words are supposed to be presented. Emoticons help in this area IMHO.

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  24. I don't use the actual face emoticons. Too much hassle. But I love the :) or :P . I know, they're a little too cutsie and overused, but so what? So is my favorite afghan with the cat pattern, but I still love it. :) Oy. Can't help myself!

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  25. I used them all the time :)

    O_o is one of my favourites :P

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  26. I use a lot of emoticons and usually, when I get an email back from someone that also has them in it, I feel put at ease. It feels less formal:) I'd never use them in a professional situation unless it's clearly the norm, but in everyday exchanges I love them!

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  27. I probably use :-) a little more than I should. But it's so cute...

    How did I miss the dancing bananas and the popcorn-eating emoticons, though?!

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  28. I'll be back to see if you REALLY tell the masses how you feel about emoticans, Dr. B. Oh yes, I'll be back. Muwahaha!

    ~JD

    P.S. You HAVE to tell me more about the dancing bananas and popcorn-eaters. I MUST see them!

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  29. I use emoticons liberally! But...I also think there's a time and place for them. And I tend to stick to the traditional :-) ;) types.

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  30. I very rarely use them, but occationally they do come in useful, especially to avoid an awkward or overly serious tone to an email or other sort of internet message which isn't meant to be taken too seriously. I still feel kindof awkward using them though, but then smiling in real life feels faked and awkward when I do it on purpose as well.
    What I really hate is stuff like "lol". I have nothing against abbreviations or texting-speak in general, but I think it's pretty rare that someone is actually laughing out loud when they type "lol", much less "roflmao".

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  31. I use emoticons in moderation. I prefer the simple ones and rarely use all the fanciful ones that AW has. I'm just too lazy to use the ones I can't easily remember the symbol for.

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