Emoticons: an exchange

Sit down. I need to talk with you about something.

No, sit on the chair the right way round, please – you’re 45 now. And this is quite serious.

I… don’t know how to ask this, but… Are you… are you using.

You know what I’m talking about. Oh, for goodness sake – don’t make me say it. Are you using…



OK. OK, good. Admitting you have an addiction is the first step to dealing with it. And, actually, I’m not really angry. I just… I just want to understand why…

Well, if everyone else jumped off a building would you do the same?

Don’t be ridiculous! You’d be killed on impact!

Now, help me understand. Let’s talk specific examples. Would you wink after a statement in real life? Can you even wink?

Well, you don’t need to show me, but… OK. That was just an exaggerated blink. I don’t know what that was. That was pathetic. It doesn’t count if you hold one eye open with your fingers.

OK, that’s enough. How about the one with the tongue sticking out? Again, have you ever ended a sentence during a face-to-face conversation with your tongue out?

Well, yes, you did then, but that’s the first time I’ve ever seen you – or anyone under 12 – do it.

Look, help me understand here. Why? Why do you put these roughly face-like punctuation clusters in your emails?

What?! WHAT THE HELL DID YOU JUST SAY TO ME? Did you just say they’re ‘value adds’?

I am not happy that you’re using emoticons, but if I find you’re getting high on corporate wank words as well, by goodness, I will disown you!



An edited version of this article first appeared in the MyCareer section of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

You can read Benign to Five in those papers every Saturday, and if you miss it, you can look it up online in the BusinessDay section of The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times, WAToday and Brisbane Times. (I now wankishly call myself a “syndicated columnist” on my CV.)

Read more Haught newspaper columns

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