Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I’m generally scared of change. I’ve been a late adopter of, among other things, email, the Internet, cell phones, and girls. And, dubious Lincoln-era claim aside, emoticons are a recent innovation. So, it was with some trepidation that I started using emoticons. Now that I have, the embrace has changed me.
Once I do get into a trend, though, I tend to get in deep (e.g., despite being late to the cell phone party, I got an iPhone the first day it came out and now that I’m on the technology bandwagon, I’m a Twitter evangelist with @SteveD503). I worried that by using emoticons I was acting like a middle school student, and given my past, I’d be unable to stop. And yet, their adoption signals something important: emoticons are useful! They add some of the non-verbal cues that are lost in electronic communication.
I started small with the generic smiley :-) and gradually moved to the cuter wink smiley ;-) I still work with a limited set, more because I fear using an ambiguous emoticon that my listener won’t recognize. However, I have added the beaming smile :-D and the squinting eye grin ^_^
This is where things started to get strange. The beam wasn’t altogether new for me (it partially supplanted “*beam*” for me in emails), but using it made me think about “beaming” more often while I communicated, both by email and in speech. Now I’m breaking out the ear-to-ear more often in real life. My brain has actually been rewired by cleverly arranged punctuation. Unexpected.