Before we had facebook or twitter we used to write emails when we wanted to connect with our friends that lived far away. Now we just shoot each other short posts, when before we wrote actual letters to share current happenings in more detail. By this time concomitantly with the rise of cell phones it became common (or at least known to me) to use what I want to call 'facial punctuation' or more officially an emoticon (emotion+icon=emoticon). Now one uses symbols like :) or :( to express the inner self. Soon variations on the theme uprose like :P or :o) .
Needless to say that I fancy using smileys throughout my writing. It goes so far that I have to restrict myself in more official emails or even during scientific writing, but also in hand writing. This morning I was wondering, why this way of communication was not common much earlier? How to express irony or a joke without the :) at the end of an sentence, won't people feel offended? Were historical writers more sophisticated and poetic? The other day my parents got new phone numbers and I wrote back: Great, now I have to memorize even more numbers :) My father replied with an apology, I felt bad and wondered if he actually knew the meaning of :). Although many people despise wikipedia, I just learnt that facial punctuation was used much earlier than one might think. Already in the 19th century people used emoticons and even in Morse code one had abbreviations for love and kisses and best regards. According to that article even Abraham Lincoln used ;) in one of his manuscripts.
Emoticons are useful little elements of style and I sincerely hope they will be accepted more and more in non internet types of writing ! :o)