So I was reading the New York Times while eating my lunch. Or rather, I was wondering what happened to the New York Times, while eating my lunch.

The reasons? First, I read an article about letters Hillary Clinton wrote to a high school friend while she was in college. It’s a three-page long, seemingly desperate search for juicy gossip that never materializes and made me feel a little sickened at the greed for personal details that is involved in some journalistic endeavors and that is now, sadly, part of our political process.

And then, I moved on to an article about emoticons, and how adults who’d never heard of them or seen them as recently as five years ago are using them to flirt and conduct business. The article says that emoticons have “evolved into a quasi-accepted form of punctuation.”

Um, really? Punctuation?

I hate emoticons. I do, in fact, get them in emails at work. And when I do, I immediately discredit the person who sent the email. As in, wow, that’s unprofessional.

I’m not saying I have never used an emoticon. I occasionally use :) when I am writing to friends or family, or even, rarely, in a jokey email to a co-worker. When I use it, it’s mostly to show that I am being sarcastic or ironic, or whatever.  Which, now that I think about it, just points out that if you have to tell someone you’re making a joke, it’s probably not a very good joke. Also, if you write, for example, “I locked myself out of my house, and it really sucked,” what do you need a :( for? The emotion comes through pretty clearly, I think.

These little symbols seem harmless enough, but in fact they make communication less clear, less focused, and let’s face it, more like we’re all a bunch of teenagers.

Decoration, maybe. Punctuation, no.


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