Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Insert Emoji Here

It all started with someone turning their head ninety degrees to the left and realizing that this

 : )

looked like a smiling face. It wasn’t too long before a bunch of clever people started exploring their keyboard options and we had a nose,


a winking face,

; )

and a surprised look.

: 0

It escalated until eventually no one was getting any actual work done, but we had a shrugging guy,

\_( ``/ )_/

and Princess Leia,


among many other useful little designs. Then, something weird happened. People started including these little designs in actual sentences, as part of the message.

Instead of writing, “I’m happy about that,” people started just putting a

: )

at the end of the sentence. It wasn’t long before it was universally understood that you meant you were happy, and not all colon space parenthesis about it.

We named them “emoticons,” which literally translated from Latin means, “A huge waste of time.”

“Emoticons” got shortened almost immediately to “emoji,” and things spiraled out of control from there.

Eventually, someone at a cell phone company said, “Why don’t we just make pictures?” and the first round yellow smiley face found its way off the Jeep spare tire cover and onto our cell phones. It has been an exponential emoji curve ever since.

I can now be happy with your text in a number of different teeth options, I can laugh until I cry at your text, I can laugh until I cry with a sideways tilt to my head and sneezing eyes. I can look surprised, worried, pensive, mischievous, shocked, asleep, sick, insane, frustrated, and even dead. There is no end to the emotion I can convey with the array of little yellow faces at my disposal.

And that’s just the little yellow faces. I can also do any one of those emotions in a cat face. And as a monkey.

Apple, the phone company dedicated to making phones for people who do nothing but take pictures of themselves and their food, even came up with a way to make an animated emoji face of yourself. You can even add a body and have yourself standing next to a huge congratulations rainbow with fireworks, conveying the emotion, “congratulations a lot.”

The phone companies didn’t stop there, however. Our emoji menus now contain goldfish, apples, camels, footballs, cacti, the Parthenon, Vespa scooters, trumpets, the handicapped sign, protractors, the flag of Albania, the scales of justice, Ferris wheels, flaming meteors, doughnuts, champagne bottles, beer mugs, and of course, poop.

I use the “thumbs up” all the time, but I recently found my favorite one. Someone at Samsung decided to add an Easter Island head to my emoji arsenal. I have no idea why, or what anyone could possibly try to convey with it, but I use it all the time now, like a signature. “Sincerely, Blockhead.”

These emojis litter our texts, but up until now they have been at the discretion of the texter. That is changing as apps are starting to get pushy about it if you don’t use enough emojis. When I type a note on Venmo about what I’m paying someone for, it keeps popping up emoji suggestions that it wants me to use instead of actual words. If I type “piz…” it’s popping up a pizza slice emoji in front of my fingers, basically screaming at me, “Use this emoji, you idiot! No one reads words anymore!”

And can we even really call the pizza slice an emoji? I mean, I have strong emotions about pizza, but I don’t think a picture of a slice of pizza by itself can be considered a feeling. Be that as it may, I can see where this is all headed.

The English language will die out in its written form, and we will all move back to hieroglyphics, albeit now digital and very colorful. We’re basically all sending each other rebus picture puzzles now instead of sentences.

Your phone has become a digital Lucky Lager beer cap.

[eye] [female sheep] soon,

-[Easter Island head]

Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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