Why do we need little face expressing emotion? Surely the clarity of our text should be enough? For instance, If I say 'I don't understand' or 'What do you mean?' it is quite clear that I am confused. There is no need for a face.
I prefer them because paretheses look like a real dumb smile to me. I only smile like that when I'm in no-sleep mode for 5 days. Also shitty dA emoticons. Aaaalso 90% of the time (unless I'm socially pressured into it) I don't use smileys at all.
Hi, my name is Creepy McDouche. I'm most commonly used by some random internet creep who's hitting on you and is painfully unaware of that this is not the only way of smiling on the internet. I'm also used as ways of showing sarcasm ("Of course I love broccoli! ) and next to phrases like "Please go and kill yourself ". Non-internet-regulars like your parents and 12-year olds are the only ones that truly loves me, hence why I've been replaced by the younger and cuter c:, which also does not transform into an even creepier emoticon by various sites.
I think the very first chatroom I used, used = for emote codes so that's why I associate them. I think the expression is slightly different too depending on which you use. = looks more happy/sad/whatever the emote is to me. =O