Let me start out by saying I don’t like emoticons and I don’t use them. My rationale is that I don’t see authors using them in the books I read because they credit the reader with being intelligent enough to read a passage and know whether the author was being sarcastic, humorous, sorrowful, apologetic, angry, pleased, rude, cavalier, or a whole host of other emotional responses.
To this day, I have refused to memorize what those silly things mean because I find them so objectionable. If I can’t understand what a person means, I have no difficulty asking for clarification.
Just yesterday, one of my clients sent me a copy of an email, for my editing approval, that she was going to send out to her clients. I read it. And I read it again. And I read it a third time. Finally, I asked her what she was trying to say. It wouldn’t have mattered how many emoticons she might have used, the language was so obscure that no one would have known what it meant.
And that’s the point. Your message should be clear enough that your readers should be able to know what you mean without the use of emoticons telling us how to think and feel.
If you’re having a written discussion, and the other person is getting hot under the collar, do you really need an emoticon telling you that the writer is ticked off at you? You may choose to ignore his anger but you don’t need an emoticon telling you that he’s far from pleased with what you’ve just written to him.
It’s bad enough when you feel you have to use emoticons to express your thoughts and feelings in emails to those you know, but I keep hearing about people using them in business letters. Who uses emoticons in a business letter?? Are they serious?? Do they not want to succeed in their climb up the corporate ladder?
That said, while I don’t like emoticons in general, and I certainly don’t approve of them for business use, I must admit that I have loosened up slightly in my use of smiley faces for message boards and for personal emails. Never for business, even though they are so cute. At this point, I should use a smiley face just because I can.