Emoting with Emoticons ;-)

It is almost unheard of—or better worded, unseen—that an instant message is sent without a little emoticon following each phrase. In fact, standard end-of-sentence punctuation has all but disappeared in lieu of a smiley, sad, grumpy, sick, etc. face. Did you know that you can actually learn a lot about a person by the frequency and usage of emoticons? In fact, you may even be able to tell if an unknown correspondent is male or female simply by studying how often they throw in a smiley.

emoticonsA small emoticon has great power to control the meaning of sentence. The simplest message, such as the word “hi”, followed by an emoticon can indicate the feelings of the person. Emoticons are available for many emotions : happy, sad, laughing, nodding, unsure, angry, sleepy, embarrassed, evil, in love, and the list goes on and on. All the messaging services—Skype, Gchat, MSN, Yahoo, iPhone, and Android—have their own list of emoticon codes that will convert to little faces when used. here are online comunities of interest . Depending on which service you choose to use, you will have more or less options. Learning how to understand emoticons is like someone from California trying to understand the unique dialect of someone from the South. And what’s even more confusing, males and females use them differently !

As should be obvious, females tend to use emoticons much more frequently than males (but that’s not really true in foums of video games like on Wow or gold for aion …). In fact, one study done by Susan C. Herring and published in the book, The Multilingual Internet : Language, culture, and communication online, she found that women use three times more smiley and happy face emoticons than men in their emails and instant messages. Let’s use an example. A female may send a male a text message that goes something like this: “Thanks for the great evening:-)”. The smiley face at the end of this sentence is an indication of the woman’s sincerity about the evenings events. If she neglects to add some kind of emoticon, it can indicate that the words don’t really match her true feelings, so beware.

Men tend to use smiley face emoticons most often when they are expressing sarcasm. They do it as a way of showing a teasing or sarcastic attitude. This is opposite of how women implement the use of the smiley. So if a man sent the same message, “Thanks for the great evening:-)”, it could have many interpretations. In rare case it may possibly have the same significance as when a woman sends it, but men usually would leave off the smiley face if they were truly sincere. Another possible meaning is that some disaster happened during the evening, such as a flat tire or an awkward social interaction, and the man is making a joke through sarcasm about their less-than-enjoyable evening to lighten the mood. The third option is far less pleasant than the first two—the man could be implying that he really had a horrible evening and wanted to rub it in. Perhaps they had a fight and separated on unpleasant terms. In his anger, he sent this sarcastic text, making sure to add the smiley face at the end for the girl to get the hint at sarcasm. The meaning all really depends on the context in which it was sent, but men seem to have a more demotivational relationship with the smiley and happy face emoticons.

Are you an emoticon user? If not, you may want to consider implementing them into your chat sessions. By using them, you can clear up confusion about the meaning of your wording, and convey emotions that would otherwise be lost in digital translation. I hope you were able to learn something from this article that will help you be a better online speaker.

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