The Pseudo-Literate Emoticon
There are certain circumstances that the usage of the emoticon is warranted. Otherwise, it is unnecessary if the writer has an adequate, let alone deft, handle on the written language and the reader isn’t automatically assuming that all the static words on the computer screen were pounded out on the keyboard in anger.
But lately, I’ve been encountering a shorthand of intention that is lazy and baffling in its existence and in comparison makes the original emoticon the epitome of brevity and wit.
Because frankly, what is the rationale for putting a facial expression in parentheses?
Compare: “I can’t believe he did that! : D” vs. “I can’t believe he did that! (grin)”
Putting (grin) or (smile) at the end of a paragraph or sentence does not make one look more literate or correct. True, both (grin) and : D are shorthands for those who are afraid that all readers will take them the wrong way*, but I would argue that writing an expression within parenthesis is also an indication of pretension and being not with it. At best, one could assume that the browser had a hiccup when trying to render an emoticon. At worst, it’s like claiming a porcelain toilet as po-mo art or orange Kool-Aid as the nihilist’s Minute Maid.
This type of written affectation is pointless. Get rid of the wordy facial expressions in your communications and I’m sure people will still get the general gist of your comment. If you really want to smile and grin your way through the internet, upload a video of yourself to YouTube.
*Rule of thumb: Always assume that your words will be taken the wrong way.