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