The Internet has made it much easier for us to make friends all over the world as well as keep in touch with loved ones who live far away. With the ease of emails, message boards, chat rooms, and instant messaging, we are able to carry on lively conversations on just about any subject you can think of.
Of course, the written word can sometimes be ambiguous when it comes to expressing the feelings behind the words. A great tool that helps put our words into perspective are the happy little smiling faces that so many of use in our messages: the emoticons.
Configured so that they can be inserted into the text of everything from a post on a message board to an instant message conversation, emoticons are often used to make the intent of our words a little clearer. The basic emoticon, known as a smiley, is a way of letting the person you are communicating with that the remark you just typed is meant in a friendly way. Resembling the happy face that was so popular during the 1970's, the most popular style of emoticons are round, often yellow in color, and have eyes and a mouth that are used to convey all sorts of emotions.
There are emoticons that can cover just about any feeling or emotion you want to express. As an example, surprise or shock is often indicated by an emoticon that displays wide-open eyes and a round mouth. Anger may be conveyed by an emoticon that is red rather than yellow, and features a grimace. Love or cordial feelings are often expressed by the use of an emoticon that features a beating red heart. There are even emoticons that can convey boredom, excitement, wild laughter, and a sly wink.
Using emoticons is very easy. Just about every message board and text messaging service provides the user with basic information about how to insert emoticons into communications. Typically, it is a matter of selecting the emoticon from a listing, using the computer mouse. Many systems also allow key sequences from the keyboard to register as emoticons as well. If you are particularly savvy and know how to create the emoticon you want by using your keyboard, you can forego pulling up the emoticon menu and using the mouse to make your selection.
In addition to being informational, emoticons are a way to add a touch of whimsy to any of your electronic communications. Most of us do use these types of communications in an informal manner, so the emoticons will lend themselves well to this type of usage. Opening up an email and seeing a cute remark followed by a line of laughing emoticons can bring a smile to our lips with ease.
Who doesn't like to receive an emoticon conveyed electronic kiss from someone we are romantically interested in? Between the real service of helping to make our written communications clearer to the recipient, and the sheer fun that emoticons bring to our emails and instant messages, they are definitely now part of our culture.
Craig Thornburrow is an acknowledged expert in his field. You can get more free advice on emotion icons and emoticons at http://www.emotioniconshq.com