This article about emoticons is humorous, but makes a valid point. Letters have been written without emoticons for centuries. Why do we need them now? I used to rationalize that the missing inflection of the voice could cause humor or sarcasm to be misinterpreted, but that’s been the case with the written word all along.
I am going to try an experiment. Whenever I feel compelled to use an emoticon, I will come up with a way to express the emotion sans emoticon. Wish me luck.