There’s no single right answer to this, by the way.
Let’s just get that out of the way immediately.
You must decide for yourself if you want to pepper your posts with smiley faces, which are known as “emoticons” (a shortened version of “emotional icon”) or sometimes “emoji.”
WordPress is happy to help you out in this and will take your colon and closing parentheses and convert it into an image, like this:
Or you can turn this feature off, which means only the characters you type will be seen. That doesn’t mean you can’t use emoticons, it just means you’ll have basic text emoticons.
Why is this even a thing?
Why is this even an issue? Because of the blurring boundaries between communications using various devices. People used emoticons originally in text messages and instant messenger chat programs before the age of the smartphone which is now upon us. It was hard to communicate effectively and quickly using a limited characters and clumsy interfaces. In order to make sure you weren’t misunderstood you added a smiley face of whatever kind appropriate to your message.
Typing long, verbose responses just wasn’t common in text messaging or in instant messaging, so people used emoticons along with many of the “shorthand” codes we all now know and use, like LOL.
Using emoticons became so convenient that they started appearing in emails, too. Even business emails. At first, this was regarded as unprofessional and it probably still is by many. Nevertheless, it’s becoming almost universal.
And so now you have emoticons in blog posts, too.
Why you may not want to use emoticons
There are good reasons to not use emoticons. Despite that they’re creeping into all forms of text communication, many still find their use unprofessional.You could also argue that it’s lazy.
It’s lazy, because you’re using an emoticon instead of taking the time and effort to choose the best words possible so that you’re understood.
There is a slightly more obscure reason not to use emoticons. In text-to-speech situations, hearing a computer voice say: “colon, close parentheses” not only falls kinda flat, but blind people probably hate it. Probably about as much as they hate infographics.
Emoticons are often used as a way to try to say “I’m kidding,” after you say something that might be misinterpreted. There are two problems with this: telling people you’re joking often kills the humor, and it still doesn’t work for sarcasm.
Why you still might want to use emoticons anyway
Emoticons are inappropriate when you’re trying to be super-serious, so if you want to convey a lighter tone, they wouldn’t be out of place.
You also might want to use them because everyone knows what they mean and your goal is to communicate as clearly as possible. And maybe you don’t have all day to figure out the perfect words.
Those two reasons are fairly strong, I feel.
What do I do?
Do I use emoticons? Rarely, but yes, I have. I have no problem using them in social media and instant messaging, but most of time I don’t use them in blog posts.
How about you? Do you use emoticons? Why or why not?