I'm an easy person to get along with, right? I'm kind, gracious, get along with most people. Even when I don't particularly like you :)
See that smiley face? That makes it all better doesn't it? Whatever dig or snide remark, no matter how much I really meant it, was flattened by that smiley face letting you know it's all good and I'm not looking for an argument. Right?
Please. I'm not saying all smiley faces are insincere. But when they're not, most perceptive people can see right through them. Sometimes people like to use them with instant messaging in particular because it's hard to read tones. Tones are more easily understood when they're heard. So you stick a smiley face after your insult to imply sarcasm or "kidding". It's also easier to be confrontational in instant messages and emails because you don't have to deal with hearing the other person's tone. However, when you're not typing that smiley face with the best of intentions, you can roll your eyes as much as you want, but you better believe the person you're "smiling" at is squinting back at you.
I recently had a conversation with someone I'm polite with, but don't particularly get along with lately. We've been "smiling" at each other through patient yet awkward instant messages for some time now. I'm not used to this feeling. It's uncomfortable. But this conversation about a certain issue had to be dealt with. I thought about mitigating the discomfort by IM-ing it, but decided this was clearly a phone conversation. So I reluctantly picked up the phone.
It was an awful experience. Fortunately, we're adults and know how to use our words. We were even-tempered and articulate. But if you stripped the conversation down to our tones, (or if we were five year-olds) it would have sounded something like this:
"You're just jealous."
"I can do whatever I want!"
"Mom said I could."
"Let me go!"
"You're not the boss of me!"
"I'm telling Mom!"
"See if I care."
Yeah. That's what it sounded like in my head. It was so bizarre.