Emoticon Inflation

(Taken from http://unbounce.com/social-media/5-painfully-obvious-but-extremely-effective-facebook-tactics/   It’s actually a pretty interesting graph that has nothing to do with inflation. )

People talk about demand pull inflation, cost push inflation, stagflation, grade inflation, and balloon inflation, but have you ever thought about emoticon inflation?

I’ve noticed over the years that I am including more smiley face emoticons and their ilk in my text and email correspondence, and with less and less justification. What started as an occasional spice has become an ingredient without which my words feel flat, even unfriendly. And I know I’m not the only one. Over the past five years, the average number of exclamation points capping our exclamations has risen 76%*!!! In the old days, maybe people really did laugh out loud, rolling on the floor, clutching their cell phones tightly in hands, but now-a-days we’re lucky if “lol” even relates to something humorous.

So what is needed to bring us back to those days when you could buy a candy bar with a nickel and an acquaintance’s affections with a winky face? I’m afraid the answer is austerity. We must be, as a society, more sparing with our emoticons, hearts, and other written affectations, at the potential cost of being perceived as slightly less friendly.

That said, if someone you know is feeling a little depressed, this may be the time to loosen your policy and provide some much-needed stimulus. 🙂

* We both know I made this up. But, you know, everyone’s using statistics these days, and without them I just feel like you won’t take me seriously.

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About marcpevans

I'm a composer, and a graduate student at UC Santa Barbara. This blog contains my philosophical musings on music and on other things. If you want to actually listen to my music, you can find it at www.marcevansmusic.com. Welcome! :)
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One Response to Emoticon Inflation

  1. Elizabeth says:

    It’s a very delicate balance–tricky to get just right, IMHO. You don’t want to overwhelm the world with smileys–you’ll look zany or not worth taking seriously if you do–but neither do you want to turn on the freeze. When in doubt, err on the side of friendliness, which tends to express itself in the occasional happy emoticon 🙂
    P.S. I’ve never been able to figure out the “Asian emoticons” some of my friends use. They’re so intricate! I guess they must be designed to discriminate more subtly among the varied states of the human psyche….

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