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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Sideways Smile :)

Sideways smiles show up in e-missives almost every day.  A nearsighted reader with thick-lens glasses, I always have to look hard to make sense of the colon and the closed parenthesis that creates the sideways smile.  It is a well-intentioned device, I suppose, but craning my neck sideways I never smile back the way you do when someone really smiles at you.

But that's not what it is meant to do altogether or all the time.

The sideways smile, like the smiley face it represents, is supposed to tell the reader, good intentions planted here, I'm writing tongue-in-cheek here so don't take it too seriously, life is good for me and I hope it is for you.

I imbue to that sideways smile all of the good intentions that can exist, but I do not feel them when I see that code for it. Not really.

To be honest, I miss a real smile and all of the nuances of other kinds of smiles for there are so many and one pairing of two punctuation marks can't do justice to the slightly crooked smile of my youngest niece and the Cheshire cat smile of my older niece or the laughing, spontaneous smiles of people who go through life greeting the day with a truly happy heart that brings such delight to others that there is no one symbol that can tell the stories of that smile, that person, that blithe and happy spirit of a human being.

All of that doesn't show up in that tidbit of a smile :).  In fact, I am almost always disappointed that :) can't mean more--be more so that I can feel more when I see it.

It is too compressed, like tight lips, really, rather than a broad beaming smile. It is like so much of the other highly condensed versions of reality that words ideally represent.  I do not enjoy u for you because people have more substance for me than a single letter can represent (even I), so concave by itself, so empty of personhood. The symbol that represents someone else needs to be filled up with more substance than an empty vowel, like u.

I miss the look of the word for some words do seem to have an appearance. Grinning is one. I think that word looks far more like a grin than the sideways smile :) does a smile.

These abbreviations and symbols born from text messaging mostly exist for expediency's sake, and I value time saved, but there is a time to spend, well, time, and smiling with you is just such an occasion. Whole words that explain more of the truth would be welcome, and I would happily spend the time reading them so that the smile that inevitably shows up on my face would be bright and whole and true--so big that it cannot fit inside the abbreviation of the event marked by :).


  1. I agree that many abbreviations should be used for text message purposes and not the workplace. In my business and professional writing class my professor is always emphasizing the importance of professional writing. Using a smiley face outside a text message is inappropriate and unprofessional.

  2. Ms Simpkins, in our class you are always telling us to keep it professional. By using a smiley face in anything other than a text message is unprofessional. Thank you for this great post.

  3. Ms. Simpkins, there is not much I can disagree with you on this topic. I too would rather read words that are carefully crafted together to convey the intent and emotions of the writer. I suppose this is why writing is a craft.

  4. Mario,

    Thank you for this response.


  5. Ms. Simpkins,

    I have never been fond of the text smileys. I never use them in my emails, texts, etc, and actually wouldn't even know how to make one correctly (never made myself learn that). I think it's sad nowadays that people have lost a lot in the way of true communication. I do understand that texts have their place when an actual conversation is not feasible. However, I notice people all the time texting to each other when they could have had a much more meaningful discussion on the phone or in person. At least on the phone, although you may not be able to see a smile, you can "hear" the smile in their voice.

  6. My problem with visuals is I can't make out what they are supposed to represent. I don't read the Funny Papers because I can't see the images very well.

  7. Because texting has become a part of many people’s everyday lives, we tend to forget that a shorthand version of interaction is not appropriate for all forms of written communication. I admit that I will text a smiley face when I do not want to type a long response to someone’s good news. However, under most circumstances, an emoticon is painfully lacking in its ability to communicate any deep meaning.

  8. This post made me smile. Since I am a fan of words and word play and everything in the world of words, I also appreciate a well thought out message with actual spelled out words. I appreciate when people are willing to take the time to try to convey a message to me instead of using abbreviations and emoticons. It takes much more effort and it makes me feel important since you took the time out to express yourself.