This has gone on long enough. It’s time to discuss the smiley face —
Isn’t it adorable? I confess that I just learned how to create it by reading an E-How article.
I’ll stop now. I know you’re tired of the thing.
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.
I thought that you were a jerk last night.
With all due respect, your political opinions are off-base. Perhaps you should just shut up.
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.
Ooh. Nice shot.
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.
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.
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.
Read more about language and how it is used and mis-used in my earlier article, Christians: Please Stop Talking Like Weird People.
Find Steve Henderson’s artwork at
- Steve Henderson Fine Art (original paintings, signed limited edition prints, posters)
- Great Big Canvas (licensed open edition art prints)
- Light in the Box (licensed open edition art prints)
- Sagebrush Fine Art (licensed open edition art posters)
- Amazon.com, AllPosters.com, Art.com (licensed open edition art posters)
Manufacturers and retailers — license Steve’s work through Art Licensing
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