In my This is the No Huggy No Kissy Box post I was saying that I wasn’t brought up to wear my heart on my sleeve in any way, or to show the appearance of it even to fit into social norms. My extended family thought nothing of of a ‘hello’ or ‘goodnight’ peck but my immediate family didn’t go in for it except (sometimes) at times of extreme sadness, and I found it quite puzzling.
Sometimes I read over my messages in various areas of the internet and think “I was trying to be friendly; in fact I was smiling at the time, but I sound so stilted, even abrupt.”
I tend to resist the urge to gush; for instance if there was a photograph or other picture that we all liked, others would alternate between ‘great shot!’ (too much of a cliché) and “oh, this is gorgeous, I had to rush over here to see who was responsible for this beauty,” (too gushy… though I was flattered and blushing if anyone said it to me. Harrumph).
Caught between these two extremes, I would try to give my comment more content; something worth clicking on a link to read, but because I wasn’t gushing, it would still sound less than enthused… even if I thought the picture was the best thing I had seen all year.
Is it just that a subconscious contrast is made between “oh, how wonderful!” and “the crisp lines and the vibrant colours are very striking, and this deserves a better score in the voting booth”? The first comment sounds warm, the second sounds calculated. There’s a lot of flack just now about people wanting more constructive comments and fewer of the ‘great shot / I just adore this’ type comments, but they don’t stop… and maybe there’s a reason for it. It could be that if the art world (on all levels from 2-year-old painters up) became a place where you only got comments along the lines of “I was drawn in by the careful composition”, it would become a much colder, less vibrant, less welcoming place. And that goes against whatever art’s supposed to be about.
I don’t know, I’m merely speculating.
I was thinking about this yesterday, though not for the first time. Some months ago I went to another art site (OK, it was deviantART), and started an account there, and found that emoticons are in heavy use! Laughing spheres with legs and arms, crying tears, drumming their heels on the floor; big shiny red hearts; little red roses… and spheres hugging each other wherever you go. It’s another way of saying ‘thank you’, even to someone you’ve never spoken to before. You go along and look at a picture, leave whatever sort of comment you like to leave, whether it’s ‘great shot’, ‘absolutely stupendous, darling!!!’ or ‘I was struck by sensitivity of the brushwork exhibited in this piece,’ and what you get back is a huggy emoticon and a rose.
I was going to illustrate with some here, but it seems WordPress doesn’t go in for huggy emoticons or roses. 😥 See, I’m shivering already.
Being me, I was scrupulously avoiding them and going on with my ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘goodbye’ and the plain smiling emoticon (a nicer one than the WordPress variety, IMHO). ➡ WordPress 🙂 Then I did that ‘reading over my comments and posts’ things and felt completely let down… and the next time someone said something unhappy, I responded with a huggicon.
It was easy! Nobody said “why are you hugging me, you don’t know me!”
I found that when ‘thank you’ or ‘with sympathy’ gets too repetitive or dry, a huggicon is the easy, graceful way out. And I found myself wondering if that’s why they are used in real life as well… those who have got it to a fine art know that a hug can be more graceful and less hard work than words. We don’t all find it so, and we don’t all submit to being hugged, but it made me wonder. Maybe one day I would find it easier to hug someone and remain silent, rather than try to come up with the appropriate words (and sometimes nothing you can say is really appropriate). I don’t really see me loosening up to that extent… but, thanks to deviantART, you never know.