Let Me Tell You About the World’s Most Underrated Emoji

Emojipedia refers to the bodiless yellow ball below as the “Slightly Smiling Face,” but I’m here to petition that it deserves to be renamed “Shapeshifting Fucker.”

This face contains multitudes.

At first glance, “Slightly Smiling Face” (or “SSF” for short) appears to wear the quiet grin one might slap on while passing a coworker for the 30th time in one afternoon. But after you take your socks off and engage in an intimate staring contest with this emoji, you’ll observe that its eyes are barren, like two holes in a wedge of Swiss cheese. Its smile is…there, but it isn’t passionate enough to draw color into its cheeks or generate eyebrows like the smiles of its brethren, ☺️ and 😊.

The paradox here is that SSF’s apparent lack of sentimental depth isn’t a setback. Instead, it acts as a blank slate for a myriad of purposeful digital emotive expressions that can only be conveyed by an emoji without a soul. I will now demonstrate eight of the most important scenarios in which SSF should be used as an emcee for your textual feelings.

1. “Patience in the Front, Passive Aggression in the Back”

Use SSF to punctuate your polite, accommodating responses to the person who repeatedly takes advantage of your kindness and/or (generally) open schedule.

Demonstrated in a conversation with a flaky someone you went on one okay Tinder date with as it becomes apparent there’s no hope in a relationship (thank god) unless you morph into her/his couch:

2. The Covert SOS to Send to Your Best Friend When She Checks in on a Terrible Date

This emoji can be used as shorthand for “Please call me with a fake-yet-credible medical emergency before the dessert menu arrives.”

Demonstrated in a conversation with your platonic soulmate during a date that’s headed straight for the litter box:

3. The Prelude to a Ghost

Why go through the trouble of making plans that you have no intention of fulfilling when you can let this emoji do the talking?

Demonstrated in a conversation with the aforementioned terrible date, who ended dinner by burping and blowing it in your face:

4. The iMessage Poker Face for Your Messy IRL Persona

Your world might be crumbling around you, but the people you’re texting don’t need to know that unless they’re FaceTiming you, right?

Demonstrated in a group chat of friends who know that, for you, Mercury has been in retrograde all year and that your daily existence resembles the “This Is Fine” meme:

5. The Hypnotist

Verbal persuasion is most effective when it’s paired with a sturdy smile and inescapable eye contact.

Demonstrated in a conversation with your sibling who’s trying to get “creative” with parental gift-giving:

6. The Bookmark on an Argument You Will Pick Up When You Have the Energy

You’ll swing back on this unwarranted “k” AFTER you take your 3 p.m. Saturday nap.

Demonstrated in a warm confrontation with your slob of a roommate who you try so hard not to resent:

7. The Placating Lollipop You Can Give to Mom When You’re Too Tipsy to Text Her Back

A little smile is all it takes to reassure mom that you’ll hit her up *after* you leave ~the club~.

Demonstrated in response to a *terribly* urgent request from mama dukes:

8. The “Don’t @ Me”

You’re not weird because you’re the only person in your friend group who enjoys eating ice cream in the winter. You’re just more evolved than they are.

Demonstrated in a conversation with a so-called friend in which you are trying to convince them to meet up with you for some frozen dairy goodness during a winter weather advisory:


When used correctly, SSF and Upside-Down Face emoji can combine forces and roOoOoOoOll!


How do you use Shapeshifting Fucker?

Collage by Emily Zirimis.

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  • Fabiana Copelli

    I use the upside down smiley face for all the aforementioned scenarios!! Maybe it’s time for me to switch it up and start using the regular hollow smiley

    • lol same. the upside down smiley face is used with reckless abandon in any and all of my text convos.

      • it’s like the pineapple upside down cake of smileys!

    • saaaame 🙂🙃🙂🙃🙂

    • Emily Holding

      I concur with this

    • Kristin

      I’ve only ever used the upside down version of this guy before! Time to switch it up for sure 🙂

  • T-Fierce

    #9 always. very soothing and symmetrical to look at

  • LOL, that’s how I always use that smiley face. Best for all my sarcastic/passive aggressive texts. 🙂 (though this comment isn’t sarcastic)

    Charmaine Ng
    Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • This is amazing and I totally agree with all of it. Sending 2 all my friends.

  • Gigi

    I live the SSF lifestyle!!!!!! she’s my go-to Attitude embellishment. The power of the ellipsis is undeniable on its own, but in combination with SSF? Killer.

    “You free tonight?”
    “No sorry…🙂”



    • it’s an optical illusion for the modern emoji user

    • Emily Zirimis

      <3 😀 :'D

  • hilarious!
    p.s. I just saw the new “mind blown” emoji and it also makes me laugh!

  • Haley Nahman

    love this so much

  • WolfNippleChips

    You people are mental cases. Stop stressing out on meaningless drivel and concentrate on getting my coffee in a timely manner.

    • Gigi


  • clairmk

    I use it moreso to intend creepiness. ie: my crush is on my train 🙂 we made eye contact and he kept walking 🙂 he really likes me 🙂

  • OH MY yes I use SSF in basically every one of these instances. It’s so versatile. I’m also a frequent user of the alien. 👽 It’s also one of those that is very multi purpose.

  • jae parks

    I use it when replying to annoying whiny bitchy clients…🙂

  • Haley Thomas

    Accurate representation! I also use this emoji like this.. lol

  • Jessica

    “At first glance, “Slightly Smiling Face” (or “SSF” for short) appears to wear the quiet grin one might slap on while passing a coworker for the 30th time in one afternoon.”

    This killed me! I knew this was going to be a story worth reading and that I could relate to after that statement. So much perfectly understated passive agressiveness.

    • i want to be its friend but i also don’t because she intimidates me

  • This is genius. By far the most moving and influential article I’ve found all day. “A serious game changer.” —some famous and trusted entry

  • Madaline

    1) Used with a singular rat to denote an annoyed but non-aggressive poke, e.g. when you are trying to make plans and the group chat isn’t responding to logistical questions
    2) to portray an impish mischievousness that is playful and self-aware; partnered in real time with a heeheehee and a mysterious drumming of the fingertips; may employ multiple rats
    3) to convey your ratiness in the sense of amusing and light-hearted self-deprication
    4) a more sophisticated form of the worn “😏”; essential that multiple rats be used
    5) to convey alarm or a state of emergency:
    🐁🐁🐁🐁!!!! ! !!!
    6) to bring up your ratiness in the sense of a self-directed “😏”, in order to bring up a development in a non-platonic endeavor

  • I’m a huge, huge fan of SSF and of the dead-eyed kissy face.

  • Kristin

    I’m late to this convo, but wow this guy is powerful!

  • Lindsey

    Haha! This is hysterical. I actually think it just genuinely looks like such a cute smile, that I use it 90% of the time as just that. However. My one caveat usage is when my mom is texting me and going on and on about how she wishes I’ll move closer to her (I’m in CA, she’s in…Missouri. Not gonna happen.) and I don’t know what to say anymore, so I just send that smiley. Like, “that’s sweet, and I love you, but I have nothing further to say that will make you understand I could never live in MO and never will, but somehow you aren’t getting it, so I will just smile so you know I hear you and love you but I’m not having it.”

  • Sheila T.

    omg wait my coworker sends me these all the time…brb overthinking everything

  • chouette

    how has no one mentioned the *100 emoji* accurate use of the mom replying with a BITMOJI.