When I was a kid (shush!), it was the rage to dot your i’s with hearts, and punctuate most things with smiley faces.
Somehow I did end up with a pair of yellow smiley face earrings, and a rather large metal smiley face necklace. I’m not sure how that happened– must have been a gift. Probably from that person who always used to tell me to smile.
I was a serious holdout. In my weaker moments, I played with the bubble writing, but natch. To this day, I’ve never used a heart as the dot over an i. Or a flower.
What I do go all curmudgeon about is the smiley face.
The logic is simplistic: Readers can’t always glean the substance of the personal written word, and need a hint to understand the emotional overtones of an email. Hence, the proliferation in the use of the emoticon; i.e., the emotive icon.
Yes, I use the :-) quite a bit, and I cringe each time. Actually, I tend to use :) . The big yellow ones didn’t have a nose, and it’s easier to type. :P
I do have a certain fondness for :P .
But what are we conveying by punctuating our emails with smiling emoticons? Are we saying, “Hey, don’t take it personally”? I think sometimes we are.
Just as frequently though, I think that little emoticon is an attempt to pull the wool over the reader’s eyes, as in, “Yes, I just said something really nasty, but I’m going to put this little smiley face here so we can both pretend I didn’t really mean it that way.” Who are we fooling?
I wonder why we feel so inadequate in our written communiques– both as scribers and as readers– that we must resort to using a visual representation of our meaning.
I’ve joined the forces of those who use the neighborhood bookstore cafe as their home office. We hover around the electrical outlets, plugging in our laptops so that we can work at full power. We pay for our seats with extra large coffees and bookstore memberships so we can access the wi-fi. We ask complete strangers– our office mates– to watch our things while we head for the restrooms and do a quick browse on our way back.
What brought me to my office away from home? Mostly it’s the realization that once I’m home, the distractions are overwhelming and chaos seems to reign. My creative output slows to a trickle, and even dries up. And so I’ve fled my refuge to find a place where distractions are more easily shut out, including my neighbor who is singing while wearing headphones. I’m an ex-pat from my house.
The ambiance here is casual but studious. The piped-in music is soft. I’ve learned that eavesdropping can be fun. The typical drivel I block out by second nature. But every now and again, the most fascinating conversations tickle my ears; quiet discussions between complete strangers who are just whiling away some time, relaxing and sipping their coffees.
The new strategy is working out thus far. I’ve set up a schedule, and I’m ticking things off my to-do list. I’ve updated my LinkedIn profile, and re-written the About page on my website. I’ve caught up on some other writing; I’ve made notes for some new blog posts.
I look forward to my nights in the bookstore cafe. Do you have a special place where you find you are more productive? A bolt hole to escape to? Tell us about it in the comments below.