I have never considered restricting the amount of emoticons in my posts. As a matter of fact, I have used too many emoticons before, and the software - on a different forum - told me to delete some! I'm very visual and I prefer pictures to words. I like the little emoticons because they help describe my feelings. Many a sentence could be taken the wrong way unless accompanied by a wink or other emoticon that helps convey to the reader the manner in which we are saying what we are saying. Am I joking, am I angry, am I sarcastic? The emoticons help convey the message correctly.
I agree with your assessment that FPs use a lot of graphics in their posts. Usually the graphics are of soft and cuddly critters.