Rather more than 40 years ago I bought a watch from a shop in The Strand. Itcost £10.00 and was of Japanese manufacture, something new for a watch in those days. The name Seiko meant very little to me then. But it looked sturdy and functional. It was of course as watches were in those days powered by clockwork. It served me well for around 30 years. Then one day it stopped without warning. The repair shop to which I took asked for £90 to put it right, which at the time was about twice the price of a new Swatch watch. I put the Seiko in the draw of my desk and once or twice since then have wound it to see if time had healed its sickness. No luck. Until yesterday when, coming across it I wound it up again. The second hand began to move and 36 hours later it is still ticking. Delecate and sensitive machines, watches.
At the town hall office where they provide visitor parking permits and the like, on the desk of the courteous young woman who was helping me, three emoticons are posted with the words:
We're getting it right ( mouth turned up at the ends)
We could do better (mouth in straight line)
We need to improve (mouth turned down at the ends)
The invitation to borrow the computer screen seems complicated in order to react to the quality of service. As it is I am inclined to click the first but shy away from making the request. Meanwhile I am impressed by the large reproduction of the smiling emoticon on the desk next to the screen. It does not altogether surprise me that such devices are needed to keep civil servants sweet in the face of the public.
Emoticons lack gradations of feeling. Occasionally someone has paid my a compliment or said something pleasant and finished off with one of these faces. Once or twice I've been absurdly pleased by the smiler, realising in the fullness of time that I have almost certainly over-reacted to what is in effect an enlarged symbol for a full stop.
Emoticons are repugnant to you and me and many others I suspect because they are ready made, boil-in-the bag responses to events that require wit and finesse and most important an individual bias.
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