Renowned cyclist Lance Armstrong recently faced harsh criticism not just over his illicit drug use, lying and bullying, but over his very matter-of-fact approach to his first interview with Oprah Winfrey in which he admitted to using performance enhancing drugs. New York Times writer Alessandra Stanley observed, “Armstrong appeared as reasoned and dispassionate telling the truth as he did all those years that he so fluently and convincingly spun a lie.” She said he spoke “earnestly but not emotionally” and noted that “the interview was strangely low on energy and emotion.” While the two-part interview may not have restored his credibility and certainly could not have instantly repaired his reputation, he at least got higher marks for his humanity in the second interview, by showing some emotion when he choked up talking about the impact of his behavior on his mother and his children.
Video is great for capturing emotion, but in today’s world so much communication takes place in short bursts of typed characters. But a lot of miscommunication occurs via text and tweet. In those space-constrained mediums – even in full-length emails – the reader can’t see a tear in the writer’s eye, the smile on his lips, or hear the sarcasm in his voice or see the twinkle in her eye.
Good, skilled writers can make you envision a sneaky little smile, a smug smirk, or flirtatious eye contact. They can have you laughing out loud or crying with empathy. But in messages that are restricted to 140 characters or less, this is very hard to do! (LOL is good shorthand for Laughing Out Loud, even if it is overused, but I prefer ROTFL – Rolling on the Floor Laughing – when something is really funny. )
Enter the emoticon!
While smiley faces and winks may appear to be overused sometimes, they do have their place in our texting world, adding that tiny hint at facial expression that can signal sarcasm or a joke or even love, taking the message one step beyond ‘text.’
MSN.com has the most vast assortment of emoticons I’ve ever seen– even an animated emoticon that cries – complete with tears! Check them out here!