What Do Your Emoticon Choices Really Add To Your Conversations?

Some people may or may not know what the word “emoticon” means, but most Internet users know what they are and use them regularly. An emoticon, a portmanteau of the words “emotional” and “icon”, is a text representation of an emotion like being happy 🙂 or sad 🙁 that is difficult to convey via text chat or email. In everyday communication, the same words can be interpreted differently depending on body language and tone of voice. Since neither one can be conveyed by words alone, emoticons help bridge the gap between what someone types and the meaning they want to get across.
Why Emoticons Are Good
If you’re talking to someone who doesn’t know you that well, they may not “get” your sense of humor. Unclear phrasing without any type of emotional nuance can easily lead to a misunderstanding. Emoticons are great for conveying your precise meaning. For example, there is a huge difference between typing, “You are such a jerk.” and typing “You are a such a jerk. :-)” The second statement implies a sense of humor and poking good-natured fun at a friend while the first one reads like an insult. Using the right emoticon can put a totally different spin on your words. With every good use, there are bad uses as well. “Oh, you’re so smart,” sounds like a compliment, but “Oh, you’re so smart. ;-)” implies sarcasm and perhaps even an insult. Still, even sarcasm has its uses if you want to make a point or you’re teasing someone.
Emoticons Gone Wild
Standard emoticons like smileys, frowns, and winks help enhance text communication, but less common variants can totally confuse things. You don’t want the person you’re talking with to have to keep their head cocked to the side for a minute trying to figure out what you mean. For example, 😮 can mean surprise or shock, but it can also mean a yawn as well. The difference between the two can be pretty significant if someone just shares some exciting news with you. Text symbols can be like a Rorschach test; different people may interpret the image differently. Don’t just try to use every new, nifty emoticon you discover. Stick to the basic standards, otherwise your intent to clarify your words is completely lost to the person on the other end of the conversation.
Mark Twain once wrote, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter – it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” The same holds true for emoticons as well. Emoticons should be used to show the emotion behind your words and make them clear. Sometimes emoticons are helpful for shorthand conversation, but sometimes you’re better off eschewing them altogether and just saying what you really mean.
About the Author: Marlin Tourtillott loves working on web and graphic design projects. He just recently started exploring myemoticons.com for Facebook emoticons he can start incorporating into his online marketing.