If lol is appropriate, use it. If something's funny, it's cool to say lol. If you're just using it for the hell of it then you probably should tone it back.
The only emoticons I use are :-) ;-) :-P and -_-. Keep them simple. No need to throw out some crazy Japanese shit like *\(^o^)/*
It all comes down to your particular style. I'm a cocky smartass and if I didn't have an award winning smirk or my patented cheeky smile, I'd get punched in the dick on a regular basis. I use emoticons so I don't come across as an insensitive asshole.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “WOW...What a Ride!”