A Generational Approach To Using Emoticons As Nonverbal Communication
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Krohn, Franklin B.
Journal of Technical Writing and Communication
The purpose of this article is to help determine whether the use of emoticons in computer mediated communication (CMC) are truly nonverbal cues. A review of the literature revealed that the traditional nonverbal theorists failed to predict the future employment of nonverbal cues in electronic CMC. A variety of emoticons are then described including the traditional happy face 3 and sad face 3, numerous variations of faces employing keyboard keys, a number of abbreviations commonly in use, and FLAMING. Inasmuch as emoticons are presently in widespread though informal use, the problem of how and what business communication instructors should teach about emoticons is discussed. The conclusion reached is that of a generational recipient determinism. It is recommended that recipients who are Traditionalists (born before 1946) should not be sent e-mail with emoticons; those who are Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) probably should not be sent e-mail with emoticons; those who are Generation Xers (those born between 1964 and 1980) may be sent e-mail with some of the more common emoticons; and those who are termed Millenials (born after 1980 and coming of age after 2000) may be sent e-mail with generous use of emoticons.