Texting, Emoticons & Miscommunication

“Let’s all eradicate the emoticon” was the challenge in a humorous article put out by CNN Tech the beginning of December.  (Evidently the guy who invented the emoticon did so because on-line computer science groups didn’t recognize humor….now there’s a surprise!)

I couldn’t agree more!  It’s hard enough to limit my words into a reasonable number that can fit into a text message and still be understandable.  Add in emoticons and the words often take on a tone of their own.  I realized that emoticons could grossly misrepresent my emotions in their delivery a couple of years ago.   My husband was away at a conference, I stayed home with the kids and one extra addition – a friend visiting my daughter.

In the middle of the week, sort of at the “Ok – I’ve had enough” point  my husband sent me a text message  saying he was thinking of me and he loved me….I responded with an emoticon and there is where the trouble began.  I did not know that all emoticons are not created equal and that in transmission they could be translated and then interpreted into something I did not mean.  As my two smiley faced, yellow, happy, not a care in the world emoticons made their way through sprint wireless they translated into red devils.

On return it took a while  to sort out what had happened that day – but sort it we did.  We looked back at the messages, both Sent and Received.  There were the culprit emoticons looking completely innocent unaware of the havoc wreaked by their silly little faces.  How could these emoticons have so failed me in transmission and translation?  In the words of “The Economist” don’t they realize “they add life to  (my) telegraphic language of text messages” ? A language that I use daily in communicating to many around me.

I no longer use emoticons as much as I used to.  I can’t afford the potential miscommunication.   :) :(  So let’s eradicate the emoticon and revolutionize the way we communicate, or at least improve it.

If you want to see how European politics look through emoticons take a look at the first article: Emoticon Diplomacy

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