You probably haven't regularly used smileys since your middle school days, when modems screeched and President Clinton rained ordnance against Bosnian war criminals. You've grown up since then, but the ;) has remained inert, a relic of type. In our new modern age, is it ever okay to drop a smiley?
In 1982, Carnegie Mellon computer scientist Scott Fahlman wrote down the first happy and sad emoticons. We know them thusly:
These were thereafter contracted to :) and :( in order to save room, and because that nose just makes you look like a dummy when you use it. All sorts of mutations followed, mapped to our many silly emotions and whims.
At some point we even moved horizontal, saving strained necks around the first world.
With the advent and westernization of emojis, we've become delighted, cloyed, and spoiled—we don't need to use our imagination (or our keyboards), because there are hundreds of little cartoon icons for poop, hospitals, and various species of marine life.
When you mix technological progress with the passage of time, we look back at the old, textual smileys as quaint and pretty gauche. Kid stuff. Something your grandpa or unwanted aunt uses. A verbal shortcut for idiots, perhaps even below the ever-low hashtag.
But we still see them. We still write them. Is it okay? Is it permissible? Should we stop ourselves?
No. Like the Heyyyyyyyyyyyyy epidemic, the ;) is a necessary dumbing down. We have to act like tweens in order to shoulder our way through the vague weirdness of the internet sometimes, because we're strange creatures who built a strange network filled with strange ways to talk to one another, and dammit we need crutches that aren't strange. The wink is one such crutch. It's a blunt tool, but we're digital monkeys, and we need tools like this.