Smiley Face Courage: How Emoticons Wash Away Our Guilt
I did not receive smiley faces from one blog moderator after leaving a comment for another forum participant. I violated a cardinal sin of professional forum etiquette:
I made a snarky comment.
I asked a valid question and thought I was being clever. But it didn’t matter. It could easily be taken as insulting, and it was taken that way by the moderator. I acted like a troll (and I didn’t even know what a troll was). I immediately felt bad and apologized to the moderator.
The “have a nice day” symbol can be used as a badge of immunity giving typers and texters license to kill any accusations of troll-dom.
You may have never heard of smiley face courage.
How about liquid courage? Alcohol loosens inhibitions and can make you do things you might not normally do.
Smiley face courage allows you to say things you might not normally say.
Emoticons can be cute (so they tell me). They can be annoying. They can become internet aloe dressed over salted wounds.
There are two dangers in communicating in real-time by text alone:
- There’s less time to think about your responses.
- Smiley face courage allows you to say what you might not normally say face to face.
Communication is more than the written language. With the rise of e-mail, people quickly learned how much was lost in translation when inflection is limited to italics, caps, and number of exclamation points. Personal communication suffers when body language is absent.
This is usually not a problem with light-hearted conversation. But it can be harmful to a productive discussion about sensitive topics.
We’ve all experienced it: someone types something insulting, rude, or just plain hurtful.
But wait! They put a smiley face at the end!
For a moment you might have thought that person was out of line.
But they did include a winky face . . .
Here are three guidelines which will free you from the need for yellow-headed atonement:
- Think before you type, especially if talking about sensitive topics.
- Look at the possible interpretations. Re-write your thoughts if necessary.
- When in doubt, strike it out. There’s no reason you can’t practice using tact in person or on the internet. If you can’t find anything nice to say, follow the old adage. (Maybe that explains the dearth of communication I’ve been receiving . . .)
So that’s the solution to emoticon abuse.
Don’t be part of the problem! 🙂
What’s your key to effective internet communication?
- Spirit of Obedience, Spirit of Rebellion
- There is a Time for Everything: Don’t Be Late!
- The Dip: How are you Handling Your Biggest Challenge?
About Jason B. Ladd
Jason is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of seven. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. His award-winning book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.