The power of :)

This is borderline “pushing it.” Not unethical but not exactly proscribed by my employer as behavior befitting an employee.


It’s not like I’m giving company secrets away. It’s not like I’m sitting here talking about what a bunch of idiots run the company. The purpose of this glimpse into my work life is about me solely. A glimpse, or a snapshot, if you will. This.

Let me explain. One of my old friends who works in another department emailed me today and asked me to review some documents that were attached, and to reply with questions or confirmation. In the email, since we have a friendly history, she asked how I was doing. If I was ready for the holidays. The usual fluff. I read her email and noticed that there were no attachments. This happens all the time in today’s workplace. People always send emails that are missing the attachments they warn of. A simple neutral observation pointing out the lack of attachments is all that’s needed on your part. No need to be a smartass about it, even though, in your mind, you’re thinking, “good job, idiot.” Since I know the woman who sent me this email, I didn’t think that at all (or hardly), but replied that I was OK. And I pointed out the attachment was missing, followed with a traditional, un-HTML’d version of a happy face which Microsoft Outlook will convert to the real thing if you Will it to do so. Most people do Will it so. “:)” or “:(” convert to :) or :(. My friend replied that she was getting old and included the attachments she neglected previously. She included her HTMLized smiley, the image of the way a smiling face should look. None of this half-hearted open or closed parenthesis paired with a colon old computerese crap. Real. I’ve highlighted our own versions of smileys in this email in yellow.

Most people I know have real graphical smileys that look like real smiling people. An ear to ear grin. Good humor issues forth. Why is it I refuse to take the time to change my Outlook settings so that I can create real honest-to-god smiles in my emails?

I fear this echoes real life (RL!). My smiles are rarely genuine. My smiles are similar to the cyberarchaic symbol of a smile. They are haphazard conglomerations of unrelated symbols brought together in a unified and unspoken understanding to symbolize that which they don’t really look like. In my case, my smile is an empty ) symbol, preceded by a pair of layered dots : that bear no resemblance to eyes. My smiles are meta tokens of obligatory humor and happiness. If examined carefully and disassembled over their constituent parts, my smiles look nothing like what they intend.

I’m lacking the graphical smiley in my life. My personal settings are misapplied. My smile is an unfulfilled code. Elements of my face attempt to join in a concerted effort to portray joy but instead look like a conglomeration of disconnected parcels that fail to blend into one seamless and unmistakable pronouncement.

Conveyance is lacking and my smile can be mistaken or interchanged with everything. Easy to mistake.

I don’t even care enough to change my settings.

People know what I mean when I … : ) What do I care?

  • Gay State Girl

    I’m half Southern on my mom’s side too (the DEEP South.)

    • Amy

      Me, too–deep South (Louisiana).

      • Gay State Girl

        The DEEP south (Cape Town) the southern most point of the inhabited world.

        • David

          I am fascinated by those naturally occurring geographic “outposts.” I’ve never been but would love to go to Point Barrow, Key West or Cabo San Lucas just to enjoy that “end of the earth” sensation.

        • Amy

          LOL! You’ve mentioned that…getting forgetful in my middle age.

  • Gay State Girl

    I wasn’t referring to it that way. I want to return “bitch” back to its original meaning. My family and I are Caaninites (we revere the dog in high esteem) we use it in an endearing way.

    You probably think I’m a drunk bitch by now, but I don’t drink or smoke and I’ve never taken any mind altering drugs that weren’t forced on me by the medical establishment.

    • Amy

      Ha, I hadn’t considered the original meaning. What, endearing in the same way as calling someone “kitten”?

      I never got the impression you were high or drunk. High-spirited, but not from spirits.

      The kiddo is high-spirited. He runs back and forth across the house, whooping and singing. It’s kind of awesome.

      • David

        GSG doesn’t strike me as that either. I envy people who have no urge to drink or no urge to abuse it.

      • Gay State Girl

        “The kiddo is high-spirited. He runs back and forth across the house, whooping and singing. It’s kind of awesome.”
        Me too. My thoughts and ideas come to me when I am in motion. I have a tape recorder now, so I can write my papers while I am jogging. Usually, I fly through the air with my head in the clouds. Last week I was pacing around, deep in thought, without paying attention to my surroundings, and someone pulled my wallet out of my bag and I didn’t even notice.

        I do occasionally take a sip of sweet wine when I am down and it makes all the difference. I never needed to binge drink.

        • Amy

          Yikes, sorry about your wallet!

          Sometimes he appears to be making music in his head when he runs back and forth. He seems to be vocalizing one track of a multi-part musical piece he’s hearing in his head. I think this is what’s going on because he vocalizes along with music I play on the stereo–he “lays down a track” that compliments the music. Oftentimes he’s not singing so much as being a synthesizer if that makes sense.

          • Gay State Girl

            “Yikes, sorry about your wallet!”

            That’s allright. It’ll teach me for the future. I’m glad it happened in a relatively safe and comfortable area. I’ve been to Dorchester, Brockton, Harlem, and East Providence and never had a problem. I never thought I’d get robbed in the middle of Harvard Square.

          • Gay State Girl

            Your son is a genius, right?

          • Amy

            Probably. He’s at least “gifted.” I suspect that he’s smarter than I am.

            He hasn’t been properly tested yet. They did an IQ test as part of the autism testing but he wouldn’t finish any of the sections (there had been many tests already), so the results were inaccurate. He was reading and writing before age 2, arithmetic at 3, etc. In basic life skills and physical milestones, etc. (e.g. brushing teeth, tying shoes, jumping jacks), way behind. He’s 9 and still can’t tie his shoes.

          • Gay State Girl

            Same with me. I was pretty much in my own world when I was a kid, gave strange answers, was more concerned with trivial details than the subject at hand.

  • Gay State Girl

    I say we ought to reclaim the word.

    • Amy

      You mean “bitch”? I may be in the minority, but I don’t want it reclaimed or redefined. I understand where women come from on this, and think the word is often misused when it doesn’t apply (as a way of fighting dirty–nasty name-calling).

      I’m comfortable being cantankerous or argumentative, even slightly irritable now and then, but I’ve never considered being bitchy acceptable behavior. It’s a fine line, but I consider bitchiness in poor taste and pride in it even worse. It’s sort of like a guy declaring he’s a jerk and proud of it. Maybe it’s the influence of generations of Southern women (I’m “half Southern” on my mother’s side). You can be self-assured without being a bitch.

    • David

      “Reclaim?” LOL!

      You gonna stick flag in it? Piss on it?

    • Please; reclaiming ‘bitch’ is soooo 1997…

  • Amy

    I prefer Asian-style emoticons–they’re always right side up: (^_^)

    Here’s Sheldon Cooper (“Big Bang Theory”) attempting to fake a smile:

    I’ve read that when people fake a smile (and do it properly, a whole-face smile that crinkles the corners of the eyes), it stimulates the brain to be happier (that is, more activity is seen in the left prefrontal cortex). The effect isn’t as dramatic as that of a spontaneous smile, however.

    • David

      Yes, exactly!!


      Is it true that the mind follows the body? I think there is a point to that. After my car accident in 2005, I embarked on this journey whereby I attempted to physically mimic that which I wanted to think or feel. And it worked…for a wile. Problem is, we naturally seek an equilibrium. If you were low to begin with, then of course the mimic game works. Once you attain the state you desire, the mimic game just detracts.

      • Amy

        There have been similar studies looking at good posture (improving posture improves mood; bad posture is an indicator of depression). This is probably one reason yoga improves my mood and focus–it keeps my back straight.

        Reminds me of the catchphrase “fake it till you make it.” [ ] The Wikipedia page connects that philosophy with the concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Our attitude, whether spontaneous or purposeful, changes the way we look at ourselves as well as the way others see us. One way wearing a smile improves mood is the way that smile is reflected back to us by those around us.

  • Anonymous