If you’ve ever observed two people sitting side by side texting each other, you’ve probably realized that communication is increasingly through the written rather than the spoken word. Conveying your intentions through the written word has its limitations. You can’t use facial expressions, tone of voice or gestures to relay your intended meaning. Words alone must suffice unless you enlist the aid of emoticons.
Emoticons, literally emotions plus icons, aren’t new. They have been around since the 1800’s but the digital age has increased their use, if not their acceptance, as a suitable form of communication. Unlike chocolate, loved nearly universally, emoticons divide the world. Those who love emoticons pepper their writings with smiley faces aplenty while those who hate emoticons cringe every time they see punctuation enlisted to convey emotion.
Whether you love or hate emoticons, you need to be intimately familiar with them as their use is spreading far and wide. If you’re in the middle of a Facebook chat, instant messaging session or text conversation, you don’t want to by stumped trying to figure out what [nosmiley] :-bd [/nosmiley] means. (It means “thumbs up”, a good thing.)
What You Need to Know
1. You can use emoticons almost anywhere you have written digital conversations: email, Twitter, text messages, Facebook, Google+, instant messages, blog comments, Word documents, etc. (Here is a handy tutorial on how to insert emoticon images into Word documents).
2. Some sites translate emoticons into images, others don’t. If you are counting on a site to translate your very complex emoticon into an image, make sure that the recipient will be able to see the image. Facebook can be confusing because [nosmiley] 🙂 [/nosmiley] translates into a smiley face 🙂 in posts, but not in Facebook chat. (For how to make emoticons into images on Facebook chat, check out New Facebook Feature, Zupdates.)
3. Don’t rely upon emoticons translating between platforms. Email services, such as Yahoo, Gmail and others allow you to insert emoticons that convert to images when they are sent to people who use the same email service. But if you’re trying to insert an emoticon image from Gmail and send it to Yahoo mail, the receiver won’t see the image. Similarly, if you’re sending a text on an iPhone to an Android phone using an emoticon image, the Android user won’t see it.
Don’t rely solely on emoticons to deliver your message if they could be viewed on other sites. For example, if you try to use a wink to indicate you’re joking, that wink may disappear into cyberspace if you are using it in a text or email message.
4. Not everyone likes emoticons. If you send emails with emoticons to your boss or client who don’t use them back, these people may be sending you a message. Tone down or eliminate your use of emoticons with them to avoid looking unprofessional.
5. iPhones and Android phones have emoticon images available on their keyboards.
Emoticons became a standard feature on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch with the latest update to the operating system, iOS 5. You need to activate this feature with a few steps:
Settings => General => Keyboards => International Keyboards => Add New Keyboard => Emoji
After you have activated emoticons, you will see a globe button on your keyboard. Press the globe button for a list of available emoticon images.
6. There are two different styles of emoticons, Western and Eastern. Eastern emoticons are read horizontally, while Western emoticons are read at a 90° angle. For example, the Western smiley emoticon is [nosmiley] :-)[/nosmiley] and the Japanese smiley emoticon is (^_^).
7. If you find yourself constantly stumped by emoticons, check out this handy List of Emoticons, showing symbols for Eastern and Western smileys.
8. To add an emoticon to your comments on this blog, click on the 🙂 next to the Comment Box.
If you find yourself wishing you could use emoticons when you drive, check out this handy emoticon sign you can use in your car from Think Geek: Drivemocion. (Note that this device is not legal in every state.)
Do you enjoy using emoticons? Do you wish emoticons were outlawed? Let us know in the Comments section below!