Scott E Fahlman suggests a use of :) and :( in September, 1982. This happened on a bulletin board at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA. It caught on pretty fast, and in November there were already several variations.
There are many earlier examples of smilies, but this is likely what popularized emoticons as we know them today.
source + more
"Have you stopped beating your wife?:-)" ah, yes, emoticons are so helpful for making jokes about domestic abuse
❝ Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle. And how can we generate this imponderable quality, which is yet so invaluable, most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to oneself. By feeling that one has some innate superiority—it may be wealth, or rank, a straight nose, or the portrait of a grandfather by Romney—for there is no end to the pathetic devices of the human imagination—over other people. Hence the enormous importance to a patriarch who has to conquer, who has to rule, of feeling that great numbers of people, half the human race indeed, are by nature inferior to himself. It must indeed be one of the chief sources of his power. ❞
—— Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
❝ What’s the difference between venerating women for being fuckable and putting them on a purity pedestal? In both cases, women’s worth is contingent upon their ability to please men and to shape their sexual identities around what men want. ❞
❝ With the exception of that time when I got The Great Brooklyn Stomach Bug of 2013 and spent three straight days watching Downton Abbey on my bathroom floor, I have not gone a single day in New York without a man yelling at me, rubbing up against me, making lewd gestures in my direction, providing unsolicited commentary on my body, or badgering me for my contact information.
"But that sounds crazy!" the dudes protest. And it is! Until you talk to literally any woman ever and they tell you the exact same thing.
Every mundane choice you make, from the length of your skirt to the opacity of your tights to the volume of your iPod to the sturdiness of your jewelry, must be considered carefully and yet doesn’t matter at all. If I had to run in these shoes, could I? If someone grabbed my ponytail or my necklace, could I shake him off? Does this color make me look like I want to be approached? And off come the never-worn stilettos and down comes the hair, and all of a sudden you’re wearing an outfit that you hate, because you are just too fucking tired to deal with it today…and some asshole walks up to you on the train platform and starts making kissy noises in your ear anyway.
It’s like an eternal ringing in your ears, except sometimes that ringing assumes a human form and follows you home at night. ❞