We find ourselves using emoticons in many different ways. We use the when we IM; we use them in emails, texts, and even in tutoring rooms. But, emoticons are not always used to indicate emotions or direct facial expressions. Sometimes, they are used to indicate the intention of the writer (Dresner & Herring, 2010). For example, I might say the following to my colleague in an IM:
I would like specific feedback for this project. : )
Here, I have a clear request, but the smiley indicates friendliness and makes the request less demanding or forceful.
Here are a few common ways we use emoticons:
- To indicate a joke
- To soften a request or a demand
- To punctuate or end a comment
- To set the tone (lighten)
The use of emoticons if a widely accepted practice, but some may still feel unsure about using them in the classroom or in a professional setting. As with all types of communication, it is often good to rely on your own sense about the communication context. But, using emoticons as a teacher may help students with our intended meanings in certain contexts.
Dresner, E., and Herring, S. C. (2010). Functions of the non-verbal in CMC: Emoticons and illocutionary force. Communication Theory, 20, 249-268. Preprint: http://ella.slis.indiana.edu/~herring/emoticons.pdf
Melody : )