Semicolons are now more often used to create emoticons than as an actual viable punctuation tool. Making faces like ;-D or ;-) or even ;^P is all well and good and fun. But I think we should embrace the semicolon as a wonderful tool. It allows for a more complex sentence structure. It expects a certain level of intelligence. And it neatly displaces commas that are otherwise unneeded. The prevalence, misuse, overabuse of commas is a particular peeve of mine. And part of the blame falls upon the fact that people don't understand or feel comfortable using semicolons. Instead of properly delineating two or more ideas, many people just assume that a comma would suffice. And then we're back to having run-on sentences and a confounding and confusing and irritating mish-mash of thoughts. It is as if we are afraid of the semicolon. No one really wants to go near the thing any more. It has become an outcast of punctuation, much like a properly used ellipsis. And that is too bad. I, for one, am not willing to give up my semicolon. It and I will be together for quite a long time; I don't care if Fiorello LaGuardia's favorite putdown of people he determined to be eggheads was "semicolon boy".
The New York Times in 1943 declared the semicolon to be "the enemy of action; it is an agent of reflection and meditation". I do think that they are right. And I think that we could all use a little more reflection and meditation in our lives and writing.