A plea for the space in the smiley


Which one looks better? Number two, right? Then why does everyone write smileys like the first one? If anything, that one looks as if it’s being squeezed.

Here’s a hypothesis: it’s because of a false sense of rush. People feel the need to hurry, and can’t afford to tap the spacebar between the colon and the bracket. They believe it is acceptable to write a smiley as a frog’s face. Everybody does it, after all. If this is true, they are caught in a system of neglect. For vague reasons, they renounce the use of details, character and happiness. Watch the pictures once more if you are not sure.

Maybe it’s because when you type it without space, some programs replace your signs for a little smiley image. This explanation is even worse. It means that people place their creativity in the hands of some machine, coded for commercial reasons. They believe that industrial outputs are better than their own, and therefore let their acts be controlled by it, even when they are not working with that program. Very sad.

Or perhaps people feel that the bigger the smile, the happier the face. Those people I’d like to ask to stand up, walk to the mirror and try it out for themselves.

Putting the space within the smiley is an act of resistance. With this space, one shows that he does not succumb to the degradation of the creative mind. One shows control over the own agenda and willingness to offer a tiny bit of extra time to the reader, just for the sake of his joy. The user of this space tells the world that he cannot be pushed in the direction where our surroundings or inventive marketers try to get us.

Don’t you agree that society is saturated with colours, smells and yells? Using this space shows that you too believe in a world where absence of information is appreciated. It symbolizes faith in a more easy, gentle and comprehensible society, where things can happen at their pace. Isn’t it wonderful that this can be demonstrated with something simple as a smile?

: )


11 thoughts on “A plea for the space in the smiley”

  1. Hey Gilles,

    very interesting point of view. However, I do not fully agree with you on paragraph three though.
    See, I generally believe that the use of emoticons should be kept to the bare minimum as, in my view, they should be used to express an exceptionally strong emotion about a certain thing. In much the same way I feel the exclamation mark no longer has its intended value (with it seemingly having become the only way to let people know you really mean something!!!!1!1!!!).
    When you state that people give their creativity out of hands because a machine appears to be more cut out for the job and, moreover, that those people believe industrial outputs are better then their own, I feel this may be true for the person who puts an emoticon after every sentence (just to prove they have an emotion that enforces their message), but you may discredit those who use emoticons for their originally intended purpose. Namely, to convey an exceptionally strong emotion about something, as the exclamation mark is intended for truly strong feelings.
    If I was to send someone a smiley because I would be exceptionally pleased, I would choose to write it without the space, because to me the funny yellow face still holds true meaning. And taking time to decide whether a sentence should be ended with a smiley-face or not seems just as much worth to me.

    Greetings from the UK:)

    Bas (Baradijs 33)

  2. Well it’s good to see more people passionate about the smiley. I am a little disappointed, on the other hand, that you still write it spaceless, even if you disagreed with paragraph three. It did start with the word “maybe”.

    And as revolutions are carried by a wide ranges of the population (even the highly educated ones living in the UK), I can only conclude that it is not just time yet…

    Nice to see you, Bas. Hope you’re well there! (I mean it)

    : )

  3. Very profound post, makes me see language from a fundamentally different perspective.

    On a slightly critical note, actually in respons to the first comment, I would like to point out that the exclamation mark originally did not convey any amplitude of emotion, rather amplitude in volume. Strong emotions are often accompanied by a louder voice, but to say that the exclamation mark has its roots in the intention to convey strong emotions, is taking things too far, in my opinion.

    : – )

    1. Hi Chiel,

      I reacted on this one earlier, but apparently the web didn’t catch it. Thanks for the compliment! I’m glad the text could induce that.

      As for your point on the exclamation marks, let’s see if Bas has something to say on that…

  4. Hi Gilles,

    I too often use a space in my smiley’s because I feel that they look better.

    But is this truly an expression of my own creativity. Why do I think a smiley with a space looks better? Maybe because it more closely resembles the archetype of smiley, The Smiley. A pop culture icon. Are we subconsciously influenced by this loud and noisy society you seek to rebel against?

    : P

    1. Hi Giel,

      Probably. Good you pointed that out. Then again, why are most smileys yellow? Are the influencers the influenced?

      Good to see that everyone is original in his or her smiley use by the way.

      1. And isn’t that what your plea is really about? Originality, rather than a space in a smiley. If we would all “space” with you than where the originality?

        A plea I fully agree with by the way; we shouldn’t be dumb followers of anything.

      2. It is, though it was mostly meant as a joke for the friday night.

        It’s fun to bring a space in a smiley to the theme of revolution. Playing mind games with soul!

  5. I don’t agree with you this time. I’ve always written the smiley this way, ever since the first time I typed a smiley… because that way it is one unit. Otherwise, with the space, it looks like two random characters out of context, especially if one types more than just the smiley. As a side effect, it does look kind of “froggey”, and I think that’s sort of cute. By the way, back then when I typed it this way, the most common smiley was actually typed with a dash for the nose.
    I didn’t like how that looked…. so I had my own… and now it’s the common smiley, and big deal. It was mine to begin with… and some others’, I’m sure, but my reasons for typing it this way were good ones and still are.

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