Why do we use emoticons?

United States
June 5, 2011 11:34am CST
Little happy face guys (or sad or excited or worried, etc) are everywhere. We even gain the use of them on MyLot here after so many posts. But why are they so popular? Even before programs allowed us to make the awesome emoticons of today, the system of using parentheses, colons and semi-colons entered typed communication and exists to this day in a large percent of texts. Why do we continue to use these? I have a theory that people miss the nuances of facial expression in their comunication. It certainly is why I hate using phones. Is it just me or are we compensating for not being able to see one another when we talk on the internet or text? Please weigh in :)
3 people like this
14 responses
@petersum (4526)
• United States
5 Jun 11
I don't like them but I find it necessary to use them when I am joking or being sarcastic on mylot. Some people never understand humor! Perhaps a smiley will save you from a negative rating occasionally.
2 people like this
• United States
5 Jun 11
I do think that some people do not understand humor, even when a person is making it extremely obvious that he or she is just joking around. On the other hand, I think that with the different cultures and regions being on here sometimes people that do have a good sense of humor just do not get the joke due to language barriers or differences in word usage or whatever. It can be difficult at times to understand some of the things being said on here, and I am a native English speaker.
@mysdianait (63929)
• Italy
5 Jun 11
Who needs words anymore?
• United States
5 Jun 11
*giggle, giggle* MysD, that comment actually reminds me of my little one. When she gets really excited about something, she will try to talk but she can't get the words out due to her excitement, so she just uses body language and gestures to act out what she wants to say. It is adorable to watch, but I have to remind her to "use her words" in order for everyone to understand what she is saying.
@Hatley (154558)
• Garden Grove, California
5 Jun 11
hi Balthasar The Rat wow what a username. lol I think you may be onto something there.We do check each other's faces while we are talking a nd I have not thought much about it. It i s just something one does. but when I use an emoticon I am trying to say oh I think that is a great idea or oh no that happening is wrong. It makes me angry. I put in the correct emotican for what I am feeling while replying to v arious discussions.Sometimes I want to portray happiness or sadnees when I read what the other p erson is telling me to show how I am sympathizing with them. I too sometimes hate phones as you cannot see if the person you care for is really happy or sad as expressions tell you so much.great discussion Balthasar
@mysdianait (63929)
• Italy
5 Jun 11
I saw the explanation for this username somewhere this week but I can't rememebr it. Maybe they will explain it later Hatley I left a comment for you above
• United States
5 Jun 11
It is difficult to tell expressions on the phone sometimes, but at least on the phone you can hear the way the person is speaking ... what tone they are using and the inflection of their voice. There are some people that I can actually hear them smiling over the phone when they are talking ... in fact one of them is here on this discussion right now (I won't mention any names, but her initials are MysD). Then there are people that it is hard to tell, even when they are speaking, whether they are happy, sad, mad or whatever. I think that is where emoticons help - maybe we need something of the sort for phone conversations, too.
• United States
6 Jun 11
The persona of Balthasar The Rat, like that of Kermit the Frog is, of course, not real, but takes on a life of his own. Started as a project for my homeschool kids and got out of hand. As a voice for my 16 year old mainly, I have to edit alot of what he is saying. But since I'm typing, I get to respond "out of character" like this when needed. MyLot technically doesn't allow "characters", you are supposed to respond as yourself, but I don't have my own account and the idea that "we all wear masks" complicates the rule. Balthasar may be a "stuffed rat" as he often claims with a double meaning, but he is as real in his comments as any person. Thanks.
@mysdianait (63929)
• Italy
5 Jun 11
Oh my goodness! I use them because they brighten up the pages and make everthing look more fun! I can't bekieve that until now there were none at all on any of these responses - whatever was everyone thinking?
1 person likes this
• United States
5 Jun 11
LOL! Leave it to you to add color and expression to the page by using them, especially since they go so nicely with your avatar!
@mysdianait (63929)
• Italy
5 Jun 11
Oh now it is taking on a new look with yours too!
@mysdianait (63929)
• Italy
5 Jun 11
Sad that we can only use 3 as I couldn't add this one --
• United States
5 Jun 11
I use them because they allow me to be expressive, there are many times that I read a discussion and find that a carries someone a long way. I also find that when I am conveying sadness that the emoticon shows that I too am sad along with the discussion starter. I especially like the because it brightens up the mood of the discussion, joins in on the fun and then am out of luck because myLot won't let us add more then three. So then I am with [Cheering] as it too can add some excitement. Therefore, it is only to convey my expressions, and brighten up a page so not really compensating more so like conveying and appreciating for me.
1 person likes this
• United States
5 Jun 11
For some reason, although I am not entirely sure what that reason might be, I tend to use the "whistle", "devil", "laugh" and "raspberry" emoticons the most. I am sure that it has nothing to do with my own personal character, though, and feel sure that it must be due to the influences of the people that I tend to interact with on here. *resists the urge to use "other" emoticons*
@mysdianait (63929)
• Italy
5 Jun 11
There anot enough! [stomps feet] PA are you suggesting...?
• United States
5 Jun 11
Well when all else fails I tend to use ROFLMAO!
• United States
5 Jun 11
I use them because they are fun, make the responses/comments look more interesting, and seem more expressive sometimes than mere words on a page, especially since some of them are animated. Besides, I really like using them when there is more than one way to interpret what is written, because many times I mean what is written in most of the ways that it can be interpreted. I use them so often, in fact, that many times I find I do not have enough, because we are limited to using just three in one response/comment.
1 person likes this
@mysdianait (63929)
• Italy
5 Jun 11
@Hatley (154558)
• Garden Grove, California
5 Jun 11
hipurple and diana there ought to be one that sort of says bah humbug lol lol
• United States
5 Jun 11
LOL! I like that, Hatley! Or how about one for "blah, blah, blah"!
@JoyfulOne (6243)
• United States
5 Jun 11
I don't know about other people, but I use them because it's so easy to be misunderstood when typing (as opposed to a face-to-face conversation.) When we talk to somebody in person, they have body stance and facial clues to tell them whether they were joking, being sarcastic, or playful, etc. When we're typing out our feelings, those clues get lost, and emoticons help us get our point across without typing out long explanations, like: I'm just kidding! Wink-wink! I'm smiling. Much easier to stick a smiley in than to lol all the time. There's so many different emoticons anymore to express many different feelings. At least they help us understand where somebody is coming from in their conversation.
1 person likes this
• United States
5 Jun 11
I agree with what you are saying here, but also, people are different whether on-line, over the phone or on-line. What I mean is that in face to face interactions some people tend to be more animated than others, and I think that animation (or lack thereof) naturally flows the same here. If you are very animated in person, then most likely you will use more emoticons on here. If you are not, though, then it will generally not come as naturally to use them on here.
• United States
6 Jun 11
I "talk with the help of my hands" in person. A lot of motion that really doesn't mean anything, but helps to show how interested I am in the subject. That's hard to get across on here.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
6 Jun 11
Emoticons, based from it's term, is taken from the words "emotion" and "icon". It means icons that express emotions so I believe they're there to express emotions while saying what they want. Say, for instance a user wrote "I'm having a nice day." Its meaning can vary when you add and right after it ends, I hope you can picture it right. One would mean the same thing while the other would sound sarcastic.
• United States
6 Jun 11
Sarcasm on myLot?! Say it isn't so!
• Philippines
6 Jun 11
Oh please, it's everywhere.
• United States
6 Jun 11
LOL! I am sure that I have no idea what you are talking about. I am also sure that I would never engage in such an activity. See how much fun emoticons can be, especially when you are using them to be jokingly ... um, what is another word for "sarcastic"?
@twistzao (72)
• Portugal
6 Jun 11
I use them to express feelings. They just seem nice, warm, friendly... I like 'em.
• United States
6 Jun 11
Where do you use them? Do you use them in e-mails or when you are chatting with your friends on-line or on your mobile? Do you use the text-style or the animated ones? Do you use the text-style on here?
• United States
6 Jun 11
Twistzao didn't use any in this answer. Does that mean the response was being sarcastic? ;)
• United States
6 Jun 11
LOL! I don't think so. I think it just means that his user rating is not high enough to have earned the privilege of using the emoticons yet. You are almost there I see, Balthasar, so you will have to come back and have some fun when you can use them.
@lkbooi (16102)
• Malaysia
6 Jun 11
Hi BalthasarTheRat, on account of we couldn't see the opposite side facial expression so appropriate smiley of different expression are available to compensate the flaw I suppose Or may be the smiley using is not the authentic feeling of the person speaking then as we are not talking face to face and even can't see the nuances of facial expression clearly while having communication via email or text Anyway if speaking to a person whom we are familiar with we still can get the facial expression of the person from our conversation then even we are keep in touch through cellphone I suppose. Happy posting
• United States
6 Jun 11
I dislike phones. Even with inflection clues it is hard too tell what someone means; I think we are just more likely to believe good intentions from people we know well.
1 person likes this
@lkbooi (16102)
• Malaysia
6 Jun 11
Go and get a 4G phone so you can see the opposite site when having communication on it. We can see every facial expression of the person we are talking with on both the 4G phone, so that we don't miss every nuances for sure
• United States
6 Jun 11
Emoticons aren't just for lack of knowing how to use your grammatical tools, they show how you feel, or how what you said should be interpreted. For example: If you're talking to your friend and you say "I hate you" they could get a little angry, however, if you say "I hate you! :D" it was meant to be interpreted as not harsh and in a joking manner. On another note I do think that they are over used sometimes but then again there is an emoticon for every feeling.
• United States
6 Jun 11
That brings up a good point. Do we use emoticons sometimes because our word skills fail us? Are we getting lazy with our vocabulary?
@HansonFan (1659)
• United States
5 Jun 11
I see where you are coming from - but sometimes there is just no way to see each other when talking...such as mylot and long distance friends and family. I use emoticons all the time because they are cute and help relay my emotions across. Sometimes the way we word things is read differently so a happy face can let someone know we are joking and dont mean it in a bad way.
• United States
6 Jun 11
Definitely true. Along with the abbreviation LOL, I feel I have to use them alot or the reader will take my words as too serious.
• India
5 Jun 11
I think these makes the post interesting and people look at the post which contain emoticon as compared to others.And it shows the expression whether the person is happy or sad.. :) :) I used these emoticons coz I like it to post on the msgs...... Thanx..
• United States
6 Jun 11
They are sometimes just fun to look at, especially all the animated ones available from browser add-ons.
1 person likes this
@sswallace21 (1824)
• United States
7 Jun 11
I believe so. People want to let others know how they really feel. For example, on Mylot we us the emoticons so you can the expression you would've seen if we were in person. I think, people use them to cheer people up while having a bad day. We have so many uses for the little guys. I sure hope they never go away. Best Wishes!
@kakvo35 (78)
• Bulgaria
5 Jun 11
I use them very often in skype.The Emoticons are showing our mood or emotions.