Emoticons :)

Count me as a reluctant member of the pro-emoticon club. I really only use the :), and only when it seems absolutely necessary - but if you get past the fact that yes, emoticons seem intended for “naïve tweens on AOL Instant Messenger finding out after-school soccer practice is canceled,” they actually do serve an extremely useful signalling function, particularly for those of us who tend toward sarcasm and other ambiguities in our email conversations.

Image emoticons, however, are obviously beyond the pale.