The ubiquitous smiley face

Three small constants run through my life; morning tea, a bagel at lunch, and a smiley face in my correspondence.  Doesn’t matter if it’s on blog comments, letters and cards, or texts.  I insert a smiley face to brighten and emphasize.

With my smartphone, I have more icons than necessary, although it’s great to have the actual yellow faces alongside those made from a colon and parenthesis.  My youngest loves emoticons; a couple of summers ago, she was texting with me, or what she thought.  Actually my eldest, home from university, was replying on my cell.  Finally youngest daughter wrote specifically to her sister, asking if I was mad; no smiley faces were included with my answers, which of course weren’t mine at all, hee hee.

One of the benefits of my new device is predictive texting, which I use about half the time.  Texting with a keyboard is a huge bonus, but looking for the anticipated word is still something done sporadically.  However, as soon as I’ve written my text, I look to the left corner, where that smiley face waits.  With my eldest and husband, I use colons and parentheses, but a whole array is just a tap away.  With my youngest, I have a virtual language at my disposal.  She especially likes the princess crown icon.

Texting whole novels isn’t my speed, although youngest daughter has written some tomes.  But texting has been a part of my life since we moved back to California.  Slowly I was dragged into that world, but now I covet being able to drop a quick note, receive a photo from family.  My mom sent this one of my dad when I missed his last doctor’s appointment.  Mom just got a new phone too, but she didn’t go for the web option.  All she wanted was a device to make and receive phone calls, but a new camera wasn’t sneezed at.

I really like his hat.

I really like his hat.

I’ve found I barely access the web with my new cell, but texting has become more than just pushing a key three times to get the correct letter.  It’s full of emoticons, better photographs, a deeper sense of communication.  Not that a smiley face tells the whole story, nor a princess crown.  But few people write letters anymore, and emails are even becoming passe.  For my children’s generation, it’s texting, or Facebook.  As I don’t FB, well…

I have a novel in mind, a sequel actually, to a book I wrote in 2011, about lifelong friends who employ answering machines as a means of corresponding.  Phil and Julia leave long rambling messages, or short interrupted clips, and by the end of the book, their young children even leave messages.  The sequel, if I ever get around to it, is mostly about those kids, Phil’s daughter J.J. and Julia’s son Abe, but I’ve hesitated writing it for, amoung other reasons, what modern piece of correspondence to use.  Probably texting, but they’ll also use Facebook, as well as the simple face-to-face manner of speech.  J.J. and Abe won’t be the type to include smiley faces; they’re far closer than an emoticon can convey, which nearly destroys J.J. when Abe disappears.  That lack of instant communication shreds a young woman’s heart, also devastates Abe’s parents, Phil and his wife Crystal as well.  I’m not a helicopter parent, but I do appreciate keeping in touch with just a few taps, smiley faces and princess crowns aside.  Phil, Julia, and especially J.J. will now view their cell phones with contempt; no matter how they wish otherwise, no texts from Abe are forthcoming.

You never write, you never call…  That old adage seems quaint, in that other than texts and the occasional email, who does write anymore, other than writers?  When I shopped for my cell, I wanted a quality camera above anything else.  The rest was gravy, because calls and texts are side notes to a smartphone.  It’s about the apps, the pixels, the size.  Mine’s a little on the big side, but I’m adapting.  Maybe it’s better for a large screen, easier to see all those smiley, and not-so-smiley, faces.  But the only time I use a frowny face is on a text or blog comment.  On cards I send to family and friends, it’s always a big fat grin.

Texts aren’t my only manner of reaching out; I’m a snail-mail junkie.  I suppose texting is just a modern off-shoot of that dying art, which I’ll expound upon soon…

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About Anna Scott Graham

I'm an independent poet and novelist in addition to sharing my life with a wonderful man, various kids, several hummingbirds, and a plethora of plants inside and out. View all posts by Anna Scott Graham

4 responses to “The ubiquitous smiley face

  • diannegray

    I’m seriously bad at texting! I usually call instead. One night I was out with my son and he asked me to text him when the cab dropped my home. I had to text ‘I’m home now’ for the entire 10 minute ride (because I’m so slow!) and when I got there I pushed send :D

    I love your dad (and his hat!) ;)

    • Anna Scott Graham

      When my youngest writes a book, I reply with ‘Call me’. But it is certainly easier now that I don’t have to hit keys repeatedly just to get to the right letter! :)

      Dad loves that hat too, wears baseball caps in the summer. I like the brim, makes him look quite dapper!

  • Jill Weatherholt

    I was smiling while reading this post until I was reminded of the death of the handwritten letter. That turns my smile upside down. I do my best to keep it alive. Cute picture of your dad! He doesn’t look to thrilled …. :)

    • Anna Scott Graham

      My dad is wary of technology. He never even gets on Mom’s computer! :)

      I’m trying my best to keep our struggling postal service in the black. We grew used to no Saturday mail deliveries in Britain, so it won’t be too hard to adjust to when it happens here this summer.

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