Two decades ago, in a time way before emojis, my mother refused to get a CD player. After switching from 78-rpm to 33 1/3-rpm records; from cassette to 8-track tapes; from mono to stereophonic to quadrophonic sound, she was done. CDs were, in her words, “one change too much.”
I know how she feels. These days, as a middle-aged Luddite, I’m always one techno-trend behind, always late to the latest social media party.
I only signed on the Facebook last year, and now that I’m finally getting the hang of it, scandal has erupted and many of my friends are leaving it. I have a Twitter account, but I don’t give a tweet about it. Instagram’s a mystery and Pinterest just doesn’t hold my interest.
What can I say? All right, I’ll say it. I’m anti-emoji!
Don’t Ask Me. I Won’t Emoji
My reasons are many. First, the simplest: I’m emo-inept. I don’t have emojis on my phone (or at least I don’t think I do). I could ask my kids for help, but I’m not strong enough to withstand their withering gazes and sighs of pity and contempt.
Second, I thought emojis were supposed to save typing/texting time. Yet, when I look (on my girlfriend’s phone) at the staggering array of emo-options, I go into visual overload. If I ever get an emoji keypad, I know I would be stymied by the choices. Which smiley face is right? The wide-mouthed smiley face? The one with sunglasses? The winking one? Instead of saving time, I would be stumped, stalled, flummoxed, and frozen.
And speaking of visual problems, the only way I actually managed to see the plethora of tiny emo-pics was with a magnifying glass! So, how cool would that be when I’m out and about – hoisting my grandfather’s hefty black-rimmed magnifying glass while steadying the phone and attempting to text one-handed?
On the Emo-outs
Yet, for all my resistance, I acknowledge I am missing out. “92% of World’s Online Population Use Emojis” scream news reports.
In the US, three out of four people use emojis every day. Some 60 million emojis go out on Facebook and reportedly another 5 billion go out on Messenger – each day.
Experts proclaim that emoji-speak is the dominant language of the 21st Century Digital Age. This is totally unfair. I spent much of the 20th Century struggling to master English, Russian, and Spanish, along with a little French and German. My language skills used to be a source of hard-earned pride. Now I feel language-challenged anew.
Emojis are Worth a Thousand Words?
While everybody’s embellishing texts, tweets, emails, and status updates with visual manifestations of emotions, ideas, and objects, I’m still quaintly tapping out full sentences with proper grammar and punctuation.
And it’s not like I don’t get that a picture is worth a thousand words. I do. I was a TV reporter and I know how powerful images are.
I’m even willing to admit that emojis could come in handy – like when Handsome Hubby goes to the supermarket and I realize I need additional groceries. Yet, I fear by the time I locate the symbol for avocado, he will have finished shopping and headed to the parking lot.
And what if I need eggplant? Do I dare use the eggplant symbol? I know that particular vegetable is a stand-in for a penis. What if Handsome Hubby misinterprets my meaning? I don’t want to get his hopes – or anything else – up, when all I’m after is the key ingredient for eggplant parmigiana.
Part of my emo-apathy is that I am a writer. I love words – reading and writing them. I’m told that entire novels have been “translated” into emojis. Emoji Dick indeed! This is a travesty!
Using shortcuts like emojis and Internet slang and abbreviations seems sort of like cheating. Why “heart” somebody when you can say “I love you?” Why write “LOL” instead of picking up the phone and actually sharing a laugh? Call me old-fashioned, but I still like talking on the telephone.
Call Me … Please
Speaking of speaking, why is it that everybody has a cellphone, but nobody uses them as phones? My children hate talking on the phone and my girlfriends increasingly prefer texting as well. I don’t get it. Remember the days when our parents used to yell “GET OFF THE PHONE?” I miss those hours-long phone conversations dissecting every little thing that happened during the day.
And, every time I see somebody write LOL, I think of lollipops. Since that Internet abbreviation has become popular, I’ve become a sucker for suckers. I’m a regular Telly Savalas. Just ask my dentist who shakes her head in disapproval at my increased dental decay.
My children tell me that emojis provide context and color to messages. So, when you write something like, “I hate you, girlfriend.” you quickly add a smiley fact to show you are just kidding and don’t really “hate” her. Personally, I think that’s just passive-aggressive, not friendly or funny.
And with my middle-aged eyes, I worry about emo-typos. What if I erroneously select a nasty-face emoji and my girlfriend thinks I really do hate her? That would be a huge problem. There’s no emo-autocorrect or 10-second delay feature, is there?
But, to be honest, my real problem is that, as a middle-aged muddler, I just don’t relate to emojis. My life is not all smiley face, hearts, and flowers. I need images that more accurately communicate the full panoply of emotions and issues I face. Where are the visuals for backaches, Botox, heartburn, and snoring?
Just the other day, I happened upon a list of recently approved official Internet emojis and frankly, they don’t cut it for me.
Here are a few examples:
This four-hearted smiley face signifies adore, crush or being in love. Sorry, folks. To me, the face appears in dire need of a dermatologist or an epidemiologist.
This scary blue-faced emoji signifies cold, freezing, frostbite. For me, if you want to demonstrate cold, show a pair of women’s feet pressed up against her unwary, sleeping spouse.
Say hello to this party-hearty little emoji. I wish it well, but honestly, my idea of a party look involves a flannel nightgown and a cup of hot chocolate.
Now, this sad, pleading face does appeal to me. I might try it and see if my kids will pity me and let me know where the hell they are at 4 a.m.
Cloaks vs. Aprons
The Unicode Consortium, the California-based group that approves emojis, has also given a “thumbs up” to a number of new superhero figures including women.
This is good, but instead of babes with cloaks and masks, how about showing heroines wearing aprons and beauty masques?
Kudos to the emo-approvers for adding a flat shoe emoji to the image arsenal. The aching feet of women everywhere thank you. Yet, sadly, among the new body parts available, there are no bunions, hammer-toes or blisters. Come on, guys!
And when I say “guys,” I do so literally, because I assume the majority of emoji-approvers are men. Who else, but men would think that in 2018, we need a pirate flag emoji?
Yes, I’m old fashioned but shiver me timbers! Avast, maties! I refuse to jump aboard the emoji boat. I’m sticking with my painstaking tap, tap, tapping and writing out complete words to describe my moods and activities. Emojis are just not my MO. I’m going to continue in my middle-aged slow-mo!