The Universal Language II: Smiley Face Icons

What have we become, when the tone of our written communication can be changed by a smiley, winkey or tongue-hanging-out face? Have we become less “cultured”, as we rely on these universally understood but horribly overused “delights” to communicate successfully?

It used to just be teachers that could leave you a smiley face to say “bien hecho”.  Now it’s all 🙂 :D. 😉 and 😛 on Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp etc.

Your choice of smiley face can actually completely change your perceived intention….

😉  can mean: “I’m cool”, “I’m patronizing you”, “I know everything”, “Any time baby”, “Great!” “THAT’s it”, “I’m really a very friendly person”…. Whatever, it usually comes off as slightly condescending.

🙂 is more, “I’m nice”, “I’m genuine”, “I’m innocent”, “I’m at peace with myself”, “I’m pleased about that”…

😀 slips into “I’m fun”, “I’m crAzy”, “I’m enthusiastic”, “YEAH!” “I’m sweet”, “I’m REALLY OH SO pleased about that”…

:P. “hehehe, you’re so silly”,  “I’m slightly coy/flirty”, “I’’m teasing you” etc.

XD “HILARIOUS”, “I’m silly and proud!” :/ “I’m a little worried/confused” :O “I’m SHOCKED”


The list goes on… We could add LOL (you are rarely laughing out loud when you write it) and hehehe/jejeje vs hahaha/jajaja (looks like a fake laugh if ever I saw one)….

And don’t even get me started on English kisses: xXxxXxxXxx – Would you give someone that many kisses in person?! I guess it depends ;). Oops, there goes the wink… I’m as guilty as the rest :(. Aaah! I’m addicted! I can’t express myself without them! XD

Why are words not enough anymore? Shakespeare and Cervantes would be devastated.


Spain a Pessimistic Nation?

This morning I did my declaración de la renta (tax return). Just as I was saying politely to the funcionario (civil servant) attending me, Perdone, tengo una cita previa a las 9.40 (Excuse me, I have an appointment at 9.40), the man turned round to greet his colleague behind him: Quillo, ¿ya te has fumado un cigarro?” (Mate, have you had your ciggy break already?). I didn’t get a, “Good morning”, a “Just a second Madam”, or even an acknowledgement…

When the man turned back to me, he gave me a number, which one of his other two compañeros (colleagues) would call out when it was my turn…

Rather than pessimistic, I would describe Spain as conformist. The Spaniards are mostly deeply fond of their country and culture, both of which are extremely charming and attractive. Spanish people know how to enjoy life, and they have the climate, geography, food and traditions to do so.

A sizeable percentage of entrepreneurial Spaniards, do enjoy taking risks. Yet, as a nation, the Spaniards are not generally risk-takers. Why would they want to put at stake what they highly appreciate, when there are few incentives to do so?

Other nationalities are more prone to leaving everything: families, friends, and loved ones for a professional opportunity. This extreme is not desirable either.

However, in Spain, up until now, the greatest aim of many has been to become a funcionario. They are on average the best paid jobs, and once you pass the long, harsh and painful exams ‘Oposiciones’ (many Spaniards have to repeat them for years…) to achieve one, it becomes “A job for life”; it is virtually impossible to get fired…

Hardworking and passionate civil servants do exist, but there are also countless funcionarios like my ‘friend’ this morning. The system does not give them incentives to do the best they can, and this affects productivity and quality in some of the main public services

Conformist, yes. Pessimistic? Not in every sense. How could a country that is so beautiful, cheerful, culturally rich and talented at sport (ignoring last night’s performance!), be pessimistic?

12 Daily Doses of Motivation

‘Motivation’ is a fashionable word at the moment. Like ‘empathy’ we use it without really thinking about what it means. There’s a gap between theory and practice. Motivation is universal but it’s also incredibly personal. What motivates you is what keeps you going, animado y con ganas – in all aspects of your life.

We can pursue motivation by manipulating our thoughts and actions. So, avoiding Maslow’s hierarchy and other studies, I would like to suggest 12 daily doses of motivation that work for me. Some of them are overlapping, and they are not in any order:

  1. Being creative – in my case, writing, singing or composing…
  2. Making a difference – Wow, what I’m doing actually matters!
  3. Making someone smile, laugh, happy, enlightened…. Subidón.
  4. Spending time with friends or family. Content feeling.
  5. Conversation with someone you admire. Admire has a multitude of meanings…
  6. Attention and recognition. We’re human.
  7. Physical activity. Energy!!!
  8. Tonterías and laughter. Endorphins to the max!
  9. Getting things done. List is ticked, objectives reached…
  10. Being entertained, inspired, learning.  Music, books, films, conversation etc
  11. Looking forward to something! Key to getting through duller moments.
  12. Doing something difficult. I DID it! I couldn’t before, or at least, I never tried..

What motivates you?

El mundo es un musical… keep your scripts flexible!

Do you ever feel a bit like you’re in a musical without music? That the people in your daily life are characters in a funny, exaggerated play, each with their own scripts? It’s easier to imagine in a espanglis world where mixture and distortion become creativity, swinging between the unknown and the familiar. In fact, there’s no better way to learn and speak another language… and to live. As Mr Shakespeare said: “All the world’s a stage”. So we must embrace the role we’re playing (our current ‘character’) and empathize with the other ‘characters’. But OJO, our scripts cannot be rigid. Communication and life require constant editing, directing and producing.

Yet neither communication nor our lives have to be perfect….just enjoyable, shared and meaningful. So, the next time you feel negative about something, try to connect to the musical vision. Picture someone who takes themselves veeeery seriously break out into song, dancing or saying something outrageous. Include yourself in your ‘musical’ but… among the medley  of competing scripts, keep yours flexible!

Sevilla Morning de Niebla

The cream-thick mist swallows a hesitant morning,

The groggy-grey moon tilts, lays on his side.

The day’s taking place without any warning,

The cars race on by like an incoming tide.

There’s a strange shade on today,

there’s an emptiness hard at play.

There’s very little else to say

than, for goodness’ sake,

Wake up world!