I updated my phone this weekend. I didn’t want to, because I have a sneaking, paranoid suspicion that Apple is messing with me. Seems every time I update, it takes my middle aged brain longer to adjust. I also think there is a conspiracy to force me buy the latest iPhone before my scheduled upgrade. As soon as the new version comes out, my old phone becomes glitchy. It is important to note no one at the Genius Bar agrees with me, but hey, just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.
When I was forced to do this last update to avoid having to text upside down, I got a whole new buffet of emojis. For a few moments, I was happy face. I like emojis. I use emojis. But then, I became confused face. Sometimes, it takes me an inordinate amount of time to send a text, because I am searching for the perfect emoji to describe what I am feeling without actually having to describe what I’m feeling. More options, with more emotional subtleties, is only going to slow me down. Then, as is always the case for mothers, I became worried face.
I fear my kids are already losing the ability to communicate face to face. If they can substitute an emoji for every felling, for every sentiment and for every casual expression, what will be the point of ever looking someone in the eye? Insert Uh-oh face. The majority of derived meaning from face to face conversation comes from expression and inflection, not from the actual words themselves. Emojis are attempting to solve for the problem correspondance, especially in the form of quick response texting, has always had — miscommunication. When I really consider it though, my kids always seem to use the latest technology better and more effectively than me. Maybe I shouldn’t be worried face about the kids, maybe I should be scared face about us middle aged adults.
First, it was acronyms. The kids developed them, and we abused them. We used JK to offset the chance we offend someone, and we used it ad nauseam, almost as if we were afraid of offending someone with a text as simple as, “Will you pick up Maddy for soccer?” Throw a JK after that and no one knows what’s going on and Maddy is sitting on the porch without a ride. Then LOL came into favor. I have friends who just put it randomly in all their texts. Either they were smoking pot all day and literally laughing out loud, or they were using the abbreviation incorrectly. It was as if they didn’t want the recipient to take anything they said too serious face. It revealed a deep insecurity about how their comments might be perceived, and said less about the text and more about the sender.
Now, we’ve replaced the acronyms with pictures and the possibilities are endless. I use them all the time, most often with those who know me best and will get my intention. What are my emojis saying about me, other than that I might have too much time on my hands or not enough words in my vocabulary?
Take a look at your most often used emojis. What do they say about you?
This is called the joy emoji. If you are using it authentically, you are the happiest person I know. But, check yourself. Are you really so happy you are crying? This happens to me just about once a year, and only when the summer starts. Most other times, it is a gross exaggeration of the truth. Enter cynical face.
It probably goes without saying if you are using red, angry face a lot in your texts, you should have your blood pressure checked. Red, angry face looks like a heart attack waiting to happen. Which would bring us to sad face.
Really sad face replaces “Waaaaaaaa” for me. I just looked at my phone and realized I am using it way too much (second only to frustrated face), but I am in the midst of kids’ spring sports madness, so I am cutting myself a break. More concerning is this little guy , which is less complaining-sad, and more really sad. If your friend is using this one a lot, time to take them out for a drink.
Frustrated face is my favorite emoji. I realize this could represent a major problem with my personality, but understand most of my texts right now are about schedules and carpools. How am I supposed to respond? LOL, JK
I call this one happy, whew face. If you are using it a lot, you might want to work on your organization skills. Lots of near misses can culminate in one major mistake, such as dressing your child in colonial clothes when the colonial celebration was the next day, just as an example winky face.
Ahhh, winky face, such a useful little emoji. It allows me to be sarcastic, ironic or sassy. Winky face is like a get out of jail free card. I can type whatever I want, and you can’t be mad or offended because I added winky face. Warning: Overuse of winky face may start to diminish his powers.
I’ll group the little heart faces together. If these are in your most often used emojis, you’re a lucky person to have recipients for whom they mean something. Sending lots of love never hurt anyone, just don’t accidentally hit these guys on a work text. Hard to recover from that one.
Quick reminder: Your smartphone is actually SO smart, it can still work as a way to verbally communicate. Sometimes, there is no substitute for a human voice on the other end of the line.