In general, men don't know how to text. We're slow learners. Even though we're a full decade into the Texting Revolution, our tiny missives are sometimes rude, sometimes girly, and always confusing. We text when we should call. We forget to reply. And we're behind the curve when it comes to texting like thissss.
This is all the more embarrassing when you consider that, with some exceptions, men prefer to text. (Phone is too invasive, e-mail is too taxing, IM is too 2003.) Part of the problem is structural. Texting is an awkward medium, stripped of the nuance of eye contact, body language, or even written elaboration; there's a fuzzy line between friendly banter and cutting insult. Women have solved this. If a woman garnishes a text with an exclamation point or emoticon, this can lighten the tone, sell a joke, and transform caustic to playful. The smiley face, for all its ridicule, is a useful tool.