Or smilies. Or emoticons.
Whatever you want to call them, they've been adopted by quite a few people in this age of texting and the internet as a way of clarifying the meaning behind a message, or just to add on to the overall feelings of it.
I'm curious as to how everyone feels about their usage and personal preferences and quirks regarding them.
For myself, it depends. I try to avoid constantly spamming them, but every now and then I send a VM where each sentence is followed by one.
The person I am messaging also factors into it. When I first start talking with another member on here, if they don't send replies back with smilies for awhile, then I tend to not send any back either. Not because I enjoy the conversation any less, but because I figure smilies will annoy them.
Smiley usage doesn't bother me, unless it gets to the point where five sentences or so are all followed by an "xD" or something of a similar nature. Each time it would lose a bit of its effect. Same thing goes for "lol" and other abbreviations that denote laughing in some form.
As the years have gone on more and more emotions have been made into icons or animations. It's gotten to the point where it's not even required to be strictly an emotion.
Whether it's awesome, fun and stylish or superfluous drivel, a waste of time and attempts at being overly cutesy varies from person to person. I lean more toward the former mindset.
And then there's the placement of the smiley in the sentence. Do you use it in place of punctuation? Or do you place it at the beginning of a sentence? As I mentioned earlier, I place them at the end of a sentence. With the exception of this smiley, as it looks odd at the end of the sentence I intend to use it for. I used to use them as sentence-enders until I had a conversation with @Snoozle some odd months ago about how he took it as a person saying the letter that comprised the smiley's mouth. (Eg. "Hi :D" becomes "Hi Deeeeeee".) So I adopted that into my "smiley grammar" from that day on.
Also, I see smileys that are essentially the same as having different meanings. For example, ":P" and "" are both smileys that are blowing raspberries. However, the former comes off to me as being slightly more harsh and the latter as being more lighthearted teasing. "=P" is somewhere in the middle. With the eyes being smaller on the ":P" one I relate it to a sweatdropping or not-amused face. ( or "-_-")
So, your thoughts on smileys?
Yes, I am aware I have put far too much thought into this, no need to point it out. :P
And no, this does not give you the excuse to spam up this thread with smileys.