You probably wouldn’t notice what happened to the dash that used to make up the full old school smiley as in:


Or the winky:


There were the somewhat intolerable but often used emoticons back in the day of Usenet, before it became the web and the Facebook. And the Tumblr. And the Twitter. Believe it or not, social networking used to be a little less easy to use. We weren’t herded into various places on the web and we certainly weren’t in contact with every person we ever knew starting all the way back in elementary school.

But somewhere along the line, the dash was disappeared. It was the disappeared one. It just vanished. My daughter told me, “we can tell how old you are by what kind of smiley you use.” In all of her 15 year-old wisdom, she delivered the devastating news that I was betraying myself each and every time I put that little dash – to signify, gasp, a nose.

I miss the little dash, I have to confess. Without the dash, the smiley looks, to me, like it has a jaw problem:


Well, I guess it doesn’t look that bad here in WordPress type, but usually, on the web, the ) is too close to the : for my liking.

Let’s not even get into the appropriation of the colon, and its promiscuous cousin, the semi-colon. I was hoping that these vital punctuation marks would one day stage a rebellion. Their army would be the half of the parenthesis for happy – ) and the other half for the sad (.

Now that I’ve put a half-sad there, alongside a period, it looks like a one-eyed smiley.

One of my favorite emoticons, though, and remember – I’m old school. I’m not talking about the ones facebook gives you or the iphone. These are typed in, invented by the internet immigrants. We used them because we HAD to.

Anyway, the blank stare remains my favorite one:


Can you use that without the dash?


I guess so. It kind of looks like the Cookie Monster, though.

Most of the time, if I’m talking to old friends, I use the dash. But if I’m talking to a younger, I omit the dash to show them I acknowledge their brave new world. It’s funny that I’ve been online long enough to now be considered part of the Olds. Never thought that would happen. In my addled mind I still feel like an internet maverick, slashing and burning through the wilderness. But alas. Things have changed.

We also didn’t tolerate advertising everywhere like people do now. But that’s a different story.

As Bob Dylan would say.