The Cosmopolitan issue of the month this month is the use of emoticons, and how we feel about them as a society, and as Cosmopolitan is to me what the Bible is to the Pope, I feel it’s a topic that I want to cover. As ever, they present one argument for ‘for’, and one for ‘against’, and two members of their team argue as to why or why not they are advocators of a topic.
It really got me thinking. When, if ever, is an emoticon necessary, and does it actually change the tone of a message? In a world where a comma or an apostrophe can change the whole feel of the 200 odd character messages we send, are they relevant, useful, or condonable? And, for that matter, how much does it mask what we are really trying to say? A message stating that someone is really cross with you can be totally misunderstood if you add a passive aggressive winky face on the end.
Reading this article on the train tied in nicely with an email I got a few weeks ago from one of my nearest and dearest, that had sent me into a complete spin. The subject matter was the fact that her boyfriend of less than a year had got drunk and had her name tattooed on his neck (but that is not the point of this story). The email thread finished with “no, it’s a bad idea, I think that’s the kind of thing you save for when you are married” phew, I thought, that’s OK. Nothing bad will happen. Till I noticed the sly little winky face that had snuck on the end of the sentence.
This changed EVERYTHING. Had she got married and not told me? Was she planning a Gretna Green style event? WAS SHE PREGNANT? None of these things had happened, but the addition of the winky face had sent my over enthusiastic mind off on one, like a bull lose in a china shop. And I was coming to all the wrong conclusions.
So using a swat team of the most highly intelligent brains (that I could happen upon) in the UK, I have come up with some extensive research (disclaimer, I have nothing to back these wild claims up with. But 90% of confidence is about the ability to bullshit, right? The other 10% is actually the truth. I know. I have partaken in a family game of Balderdash in my time, so know this to be correct).
My personal opinion is that it’s more appropriate for girls than boys. I know this is a gross stereotype, but if, for example, I am arranging a date with a guy and I get a message that includes more than one smily face, I’m immediately concerned. Is he a mummy’s boy? Does he write all correspondence using a selection of crayons in the colours of the rainbow? I know that as a modern woman I shouldn’t jump to this conclusion, but I do. I think it’s an instinct from back in the day of cavemen, when the appropriate mating ritual was being clubbed over the head and dragged back to the cave to cook dinner, but it’s the same with getting ready time. If the sum of the man’s getting ready ritual is equal to or greater than the sum of my getting ready ritual, then it will never be a happy union, and he is glossed over for a far less time consuming boy toy. End of.
Another sits on the fence, not minding them if used sporadically, but when overused they become a bugbear, where she wants to say
But a male friend echoes my views, saying simply
What are your thoughts?