Emoticon Nation


Call me old school, but I am still a bit incensed that I was accused of not being friendly enough in my communications at work a couple of years ago. The suggestion was made that I add smiley faces to my emails. No seriously.

The example email I might have written in my pre-emoticon world:
Dear Bob,
Please find the attached quote for our products and services. Let me know if you have any questions and I will be happy to put you in touch with one of our account managers.
My best,
Pamela
Now looks a little something-something like this:
Hey Bob, your quote is attached.  Let me know if you have any questions :) Thanks! -Pamela
When did we become a nation of emoticon and uber-excitable, dare I say bordering on spastic, exclamation point composers?

Not only do we have emoticons but we now have little dancing figures, coffee cups, and green barfy faces as well. In fact, I could string a series of those little bastards together and never again have to compose an IM using text. Awesomesauce!

I suppose if you grew up in the '80s and were taught how to interview, write in cursive and dress for the job you want, not the job you have, then you are just a tad too unfriendly and uptight for today's communication culture. Turns out, it is popular to have some sort of chat running in the background on your mobile, and lunch meetings require you to pop open the tablet or pull out the mobile phone while mock conversing with head down and eyes averted.

It all reminds me of an obnoxious woman on the British sitcom Miranda who pauses mid-sentence at the restaurant as her cell phone rings saying, "Bear with, bear with, bear with." No, I don't want to bear with. I want to grab your phone and smash it against the wall because, um, it seems far more important than the face to face conversation we were supposed to be having.

To be honest, I'm just as guilty as the rest. I routinely check in at restaurants and various places for fear of forgetting the food or location I enjoyed so much. In fact, it feels eerily similar to chronicling our life in rolls of film that were sent off to the developer back in the day. There are shoe-boxes of photos of us during family meals, unwrapping presents and even standing stiff and posed in ugly prom dresses.

Let us not forget our parents and grandparents pulled out those 8mm black and white cameras with the bright spotlights at every opportunity. There's my sister with the push mower, and a wonky bandage on her knee. There's my brother pouting because he just got a brush cut. There's me with the blinky-eyes because the lights were too bright as I unwrapped Mrs. Beasley.
Not only can I now publish that obnoxious photo series of a Monarch taking flight, but I can also let you see the emotions felt during the fevered heat of that very moment. Exciting. 

Presumptuous on my part but hey, that is a large part of sharing your life socially. The egotistical and narcissistic assumption is made that those we are connected with actually give a crap about our pet photos, travel check-ins and endless selfies.

Still, I don't mind using the occasional smiley face for my casual daily connections. Sometimes they are funny and fit when you want someone to know your nasty dis was just a joke. Yet, I still feel as though emoticons are best left for my social media posts and not my emails representing what is supposed to be a professional organization.  

As much as I want to hold onto the formality of shaking hands and using "dear" in my salutation, rather than fist bumping or starting off with, "hey so and so", it seems this world will pass me by if I don't flail my body upon that speeding train.

I suppose if I want to get along in the post-formality world, I will just have to feign mock excitement over sending someone that W-9 they asked for.