The Exhausted Smiley Face Emoticon

Ever seen one of these? The smiley face created by Harvey Ball in 1963.

This has gone on long enough. It’s time to discuss the smiley face — ๐Ÿ™‚

Isn’t it adorable? I confess that I just learned how to create it by reading an E-How article. ย ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ll stop now. I know you’re tired of the thing. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

But whether or not I continue to insert the symbol after every sentence, you can’t get away from it, and if you start to count how many e-mails, text messages, Facebook posts, Tweets, and other contemporary communication methods assault you with it daily, you come up with a decently sized number.

And the interesting point is, the smiley emoticon frequently accompanies 1) an insensitive comment, 2) an insult, or 3) a confrontational statement, along the lines of,

You’re right. Those pants are a little unflattering. ๐Ÿ™‚

I thought that you were a jerk last night. ๐Ÿ™‚

With all due respect, your political opinions are off-base. Perhaps you should just shut up. ๐Ÿ™‚

Human interaction. No technological triumph can trump it. Beachside Diversions, available as an original painting and signed limited edition print at Steve Henderson Fine art; as a licensed, open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

In the deep primeval past, when we communicated face to face or, more recently, by telephone, one had to be either inordinately insensitive or amazingly good to vituperate someone without their quite realizing what had just been done. For too many years I knew a woman — happily well out of my life now — who was brilliant, simply brilliant at delivering a venomous expression of hostile malevolence with a honeyed, gentle smile and the meek demeanor of a saint.

Oh, this woman was sweet. Every interaction with her induced an emotionally diabetic glucose reaction that left me with a bitter sensation in my spirit and mouth, but oddly, many people did not see, or chose not to see, this.

But then again, she was really, really good, and she aimed carefully and wisely the directions of her barbs. The cunning, crafty, clever part of me — my default, and I assure you that, in the days past when I fed the beast within I was magnificently accomplished at the craft — couldn’t help but admire how good this woman was at what she did, which is only to be expected because she practiced so diligently.

The woman who has fortunately sailed far away from my life was as skilled at malevolence as the master sailor is with negotiating the sea. Golden Opportunity, original at Steve Henderson Fine art; licensed open edition fine art print at Great Big Canvas.

Ooh. Nice shot. ๐Ÿ™‚

Communication, for good, bad, ugly, or kind, is a gift given to humans (this is not the time to bring up dolphins that converse and chimpanzees trained to use sign language), and we are rapidly degenerating in our ability to use it. Rather than take time to consider our words, and how they will impact the person hearing, or reading, them, we slap out a text and punctuate it with an emoticon, frequently leaving the recipient confused at our ambiguity.

Is the person addressing us angry, or not? Is there some issue that needs to be resolved? What are they really saying?

If we shoot back, “What are you really saying?” we may get,

I think you know. ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, gosh, that really helps.

Theoretically, we are an educated people, and judging by the amount that taxpayers put into our contemporary educational system we should speak, write, and dance like Einstein, but we don’t. We have much to say but are so reluctant to enter into the fray of human emotions and potential confrontation that we don’t say it, at least not clearly.

So, are we an educated people are not? Let’s start acting like it. Embrace Each Day poster based upon Steve Henderson’s original painting, Provincial Afternoon.

It takes courage and conviction to look a person in the eye (you can’t do this in a text) and express our true thoughts, but the potential fruit of genuine communication is honesty, understanding, and a moving forward in a relationship.

That’s a good thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

Read more about language and how it is used and mis-used in my earlier article,ย Christians: Please Stop Talking Like Weird People.

Find Steve Henderson’s artwork at

Manufacturers and retailers — license Steve’s work throughย Art Licensing

This Article is linked to The Chicken Chick, Nourishing Joy, Natural Living Mamma, Butter Believer, New Nostalgia, Be Simply Better,ย Mom’s the Word, The Prairie Homestead, A Blossoming Life, Real Food Forager, Healthy Roots Happy Soul, A Humble Bumble, Country Living on a Hill, Adventures of a DIY Mom,ย Simply Helping Him, Hope in Every Season, Deep Roots at Home,ย Frugally Sustainable Ways, Raising Homemakers, Holistic Squid, Mama BZZ, Adorned from Above,ย Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Dude Sustainable, My Cultured Palate, Katherine’s Corner, Rens Family Blog


11 Responses

  1. Four thoughts:

    1. Did you know that you can also use an eight instead of a colon for the eyes? Or a capital D for the mouth?

    2. Well, phooey. I’ve been using it wrong. I use it when I would actually be smiling at someone because I am so tickled with my own humor or because I want them to know I’m trying to be funny. (Hard to tell when voice and face are invisible, as you know!) I didn’t know it was a license to be nasty. JUST KIDDING – I know you were being sarcastic. I wonder what the emoticon is for sarcasm. . .

    3. You really nailed that Saccharine Sister! I think I might know her too. . .

    4. Did you know that “with all due respect” is the secular version of “bless your heart”?

    ๐Ÿ˜Ž or wait, I could do a wink: ๐Ÿ˜‰ That’s when you use a semi-colon for the eyes.

    Not a mean thought in this entire comment – not toward you, anyway. Toward that Saccharine sis – grrrrr, makes me grumpy. 8-(

    Great post, by the way. Should have said that first. I’ve been enjoying all your posts, but intermittent internet means time for interaction is limited these days.

    1. Jana — I had no idea there were so many options to make this face. It is probably best that I do not know, or I would quickly grow out of control.

      I am glad to hear from you and hear that all is going well. I always enjoy touching base with you and reading your comments.

      With all due respect, I think I really prefer that phrase to Bless Your Heart. I knew another woman (why do they seem to populate my life? Is it because they NEED me?) who prefaced snide remarks about people with “Bless his/her heart.” I have never been able to tolerate the term since.

      You know, according to what I’ve read on the internet (I think I put the link in the story) the emoticon was created with the specific purpose of taking the sting out of snarky e-mail and text comments. I guess I wasn’t so far off. Not as far off as I have the capacity to be.

      A lovely week to you, my friend, and I smile, with pleasure and joy, on my actual face as I say this. — Carolyn

      1. The phrase “bless her/your/his heart” has always struck me as phony-baloney. And “with all due respect” usually means “Look out, I’m about to drop a bomb on you”.

        In eHow, it says the smiley face emoticon was created to communicate friendliness. Like most things that were intended for good, it has been twisted to be misused for bad.

        Thanks for enlightening me out about the other meaning of the thing. I’ve probably confused everyone I’ve ever emailed by not using it in a snarky manner. Now I need an emoticon that expresses “I’m as dumb as dirt” or “as naive as a marshmallow”!

        In other news, I’m reading a fantastic author whose writing style and humor remind me of yours! It is Betty MacDonald. I’ve read “The Plague and I” published in 1948 and now am thoroughly enjoying “The Egg and I”, published in 1945. I HIGHLY recommend her to you. (resisting the urge to insert a friendly face in this spot)

  2. Becca

    Thanks for stopping by my Healthy Tuesday hop! It is sad how good communication seems to be going down the drain. ๐Ÿ™

    1. You are welcome, Becca — I’m glad you dropped in as well. Yes, communication is suffering right now, but as with aspects of civilization, a small group of us can work hard to keep it from faltering, and perhaps rise again to where it was before.

  3. Great post! Spot on! My whole family on my dad’s side is barbs with honey. Words are chosen carefully to say just exactly what we mean to say. I really identified with: “my default, and I assure you that, in the days past when I fed the beast within I was magnificently accomplished at the craft” Jesus’ reality in my life is the thing that made feeding my default a thing of the past. Sometimes though, I do still need an outlet. I created a blog that I use for just that purpose- I don’t write in it all the time but, it’s there if I need it.

    1. Renee — I hear you. While my transformation to a kinder, less acerbic person, after my becoming a Christian, was not instantaneous, it has been a steady journey to a better place.

      Because I don’t practice being snarky all the time, I’m not as good at it as I once was, but I’m okay with that. There are other things I want to be good at — like listening, encouraging, being there. I see that you are on the same path.

      But it slips out sometimes, doesn’t it? Oooooh — it’s so naughty and fun!

      I enjoy reading your blog — you have a witty, yet gentle, voice, and I find myself nodding and smiling every time I finish one of your posts. I am glad that we discovered one another! — Carolyn

  4. Pingback : Thank Goodness It's Monday #24 - Nourishing Joy

  5. Simply excellent in so many ways! Love this! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    (Thanks for linking up at my Homemaking makes me soooooo ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ !!!)


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