Why Grown Men Should Never Use Emoticons

Written by rtcrooks

For some people, expressing tone and emotion in their writing is an arduous task. In an age where communication happens at lightening speed, text and instant messaging services have replaced more formal forms of communication. People have become more reliant on shortcuts that allow them to express tone and emotion more effectively. Emoticons, a portmanteau of the English words emotion (or emote) and icon, are the devil behind this unhealthy reliance. Emoticons provide a more straightforward, and simpler process for displaying emotions in writing – but without having to use words.

At some point in life, you are supposed to leave your childish ways behind, and grow into a real man or woman. There is nothing more depressing than watching someone desperately hanging on to their youth. With that said, why are grown men using emoticons? Wearing Converse high tops and talking about how great the new Arcade Fire album gets our seal of approval. Sending an email that reads, “Sorry your investment went belly up this quarter, :(…” does not. Take a hint old man, no one is going to give you a hard time for actually acting your age.

Emoticons Make You Look Like A Teeny Bopper On Myspace


Are you in-between being a child and a teen? If you answer no to this question, there is no need for you to be using emoticons. “Tweens” are all the rage right now. Tween is the new marketing term used to define the demographic roughly between the ages of 8 and 14. They are easily identified as the demographic that goes to a Jonas Brother’s concert and begs their parents to buy them a $40 tour t-shirt, all while spending the entire concert screaming at the top of their lungs. According to Wikipedia, Tweens are the first “highly connected” generation. They were born into technology, and the first generation to have lifelong use of the internet, cell phones, etc. They interact with technology flawlessly; to them its invisible. They see electronic devices as an extension of themselves rather than a medium of communication. It’s almost as if emoticons were created just for them…not for you.




The internet may be the death of grammar among the youth today. Anyone with access to a computer can now start their own blog and unconsciously slaughter the English language. Language changes along with culture. A great example can be seen with the Hippie movement of the 60’s. Their everyday language was filled with expressions such as: Groovy, far out, happening, and dude. But does basic, good grammar really have to disappear from our society? Laziness is a stinky perfume, so spend an extra 30 seconds on your next forum post. Grown men (and women) should not become a catalyst for destroying proper sentence structure, or hitch a ride on the emoticon band wagon.

Emoticons = Bad Business Practice


Bombarding clients and co-workers with playful emoticons at the end of e-mails is not what someone would call, “professional”. Alexis Feldman, the director of the Feldman Realty Group, a commercial real estate company in Manhattan, knows this all too well. More than once she has had a multimillion-dollar deal fall through. She says that she’ll get an e-mail that says, “Sorry, my client is not interested in the space, too bad we couldn’t make the big bucks” with a frown face at the end of it! Sending off a “tough break” e-mail with a frown face emoticon at the end of it does not make someone feel better about losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, in fact it makes you look like a bona fide jerk.

They Alter The Reader’s Perception


When trying to convey a message to another person or audience, there are certain ways to gain credibility. Using emoticons is not one of them. Good grammar, research with credible sources, style, and organization are the arenas that writers should be worried about. Not emoticons of a bunny ( /), or animations of a devilish smiley face. Emoticons add too much playfulness to allow for the author to be taken seriously. But grown men want to be taken seriously, unless they want to date 22 yr old’s who just want to party; for the rest of their life. And if that’s you’re predicament, you’re most likely dealing with much bigger issues than using emoticons.

They’re Meant To Be Used Ironically


The first person documented to have used the emoticons ” ๐Ÿ™‚ ” and ” ๐Ÿ™ ” with a specific suggestion that they be used to express emotion, was Scott Fahlman. Fahlman is a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, and his work has been dedicated to the cascade correlation algorithm, the Dylan programming language, and Common Lisp (We don’t expect you to know what any of this computer jargon specifically relates to. Just know that one day it will lead to artificial intelligence) His original message from 1982 appears below:

19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman ๐Ÿ™‚

From: Scott E Fahlman

I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers:


Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark

things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use:


Wall Street


Do you want the people handling your investment nest egg using emoticons when they e-mail you about your portfolio?

“We know its been a tough year, but you only lost $15,000 this year : ) Some people lost $35,000 : ( ”

There is something about this type of correspondence that doesn’t sit well with us. Maybe because they’re poking fun at the fact we lost $15,000, and will not be able to send our 18yr old to college this fall. Needless to say, Wall Street and emoticons do not correlate into a winning relationship.

They’re Superfluous Expressions That Highlight Poor Language Skills


If you ever want to be considered a praiseworthy writer, then you need to hone and craft your writing skills. If your words sound harsh when delivered without a wink or a smile, then you need to take an English 101 refresher course at your local community college. If you cannot convey to other internet users — with your words — whether or not your point was friendly or humorous, then take an English 201 course. If you cannot express your point without fancy animated punching smileys or figures that represent Sadaam Hussein, then take an English 301 course. If that still doesn’t work, then just do us all a favor and just give up your writing career.

They Undermine Your Credibility As An Authority Figure


You cruise into the office one morning, sit down at your computer to check your e-mail, and BLAMMO! You instantly realize you forgot to attach a time sensitive document to an e-mail you sent the night before. You suddenly get sick to your stomach. Your boss is going to thrust your neck into a guillotine for this blunder. When you finally work up the nerve to check your inbox you start dying laughing; here is the message from your boss:

“Hi Peter, what were you thinking? ๐Ÿ™ That document needed to be sent out last night so that our New York office could get started on the project first thing this morning. The East coast guys are so >:( with you right now! You really let us down on this one

Are you really going to take your boss seriously after getting an e-mail like this? We didn’t think so.

Bonus: Mario & Luigi spotted in real life