If you’re like me, you probably thought Christmas had come early when an article begging us to stop using the emoticon popped-up on CNN.com. It’s not that I loathe the emoticon, per se…it’s just, well, I think we can all do better. Because really? Substituting a smiley, frown-y, crying, whatever-face for the words that could describe the feelings you’re feeling is just a cop-out. And so in an effort to help you break-free from your emoticon addiction, I encourage you to view the below list, check it twice, and think again before you hit shift, colon, parentheses.
- You Should Enjoy Using Your Words. You probably wouldn’t become a kindergarten teacher if you hated kids. Along the same lines of logic, you probably wouldn’t start a blog if you despised writing. So I’m often confused when I find blog posts that are riddled with emoticons. Did you not feel like you could adequately explain your emotions by using your words? I mean, if you enjoy writing enough to start a blog, you probably enjoy writing enough to explain that, today you are happy, or yesterday you were sad, or that you just want to stick your tongue out sometimes. In my opinion, half the joy of writing is finding a perfect yet creative way to say what’s on my mind. So I implore you, the next time you’re tempted to use one of those yellow-faces-of-doom, why not try showing us your writing prowess instead?
- We All See Right Through a Strategically Placed Emoticon. I see this a lot in the comments section of blogs when the beholder of a dissenting opinion tries to “soften the blow” (also known as, trying to avoid getting verbally assaulted by the blogger’s loyal blends) by sneaking in a toothy, virtual grin. It’s just so…transparent, kind of like Regina George telling you she loves your bracelet. If you disagree with a blog post, and choose to comment then you just need to own it. A responsible blogger knows that not everyone is going to agree with her 100 percent of the time, and when framed diplomatically, a differing opinion can spark a worthwhile conversation. So for Baby Jesus’s sake, don’t cheapen your comment with a totally gratuitous emoticon.
- You Need to Have More Faith in Your Readers. If your posts are sprinkled with wink-y faces because you’re convinced your readers won’t catch your sarcasm…you just need to stop. There’s one of two things going on here, and both are problems: either you have no faith in your audience (we’ll cover this issue here) or your sarcasm needs work (we’ll talk about this in the next one). Seriously though, you just have to have faith that your readers are intelligent people who can pick up on nuance. And if they’re not? Well, then they probably won’t be reading your blog for long, which is fine. Not every blog’s style is for every reader, so there’s no sense trying to reel in your skeptics by littering your blog with those, meaningless yellow faces.
- You Need to Work on your Sarcasm. Sometimes it’s hard to translate your spoken word into your written word, especially when you’re trying to convey sarcasm. I would know, because, in my real life I am constantly sarcastic, and so, in my blog life I try to be sarcastic as well. Most of time, it works like a dream, but occasionally? Not so much. Still, this is no excuse to resort to emoticons. There are a few things to keep in mind if you want to do sarcasm the right way — which obviously implies free of little winking men. First and foremost, it’s important to find your voice. If you’re not sarcastic in your daily life, chances are you’re not going to be very good at nailing sarcasm in your blog life, which is totally OK (this applies to other attributes besides sarcasm, too!) Then, it’s a matter of writing like you speak. Seriously, it’s that simple. When you go to write something sarcastic, think of how you would say it and write it just like that. Just like you need to have faith in your readers, you also need to have faith in yourself. And seriously, you wouldn’t wink to cap-off a sarcastic statement, would you? Exactly.
- Just Admit It, Emoticons are Kind of Creepy. Maybe it’s that I had a bad experience with an emoticon back in the day, or that I find their evolution from motionless, beta-creatures, to spinning, animated pseudo-faces just downright terrifying. But I seriously doubt that most of you can honestly say that you like emoticons. And if you can? Well then I ask that you read your post out loud and wink, or grimace, or full-mouth smile at yourself every time you stumble across one of your yellow friends. I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll feel like a huge creep, because really? Nobody winks anymore…unless they’re creepy.
With 2011 barreling down the birth canal, I’m sure you’re on the lookout for some doable New Year’s Resolutions, so why not include one that’s super-easy and good for the blogosphere? I challenge you to banish emoticons from your blog life, even if it’s just for a little while. You can do it. I believe in you. And I bet you didn’t even need a wink-face to know I’m being slightly sarcastic.