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Why I hate emojis


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I have never knowingly used the vile little gurning dots and I don’t intend to start now




‘Emojis? Really?’  



Should I ever be kidnapped or held against my will – I am talking about a boring wedding rather than a Liam Neeson Taken-type scenario – it will be very easy for my nearest and dearest to know something is up. I will text them those vile little gurning dots called emojis and they will know my world is falling apart.

I have never knowingly used an emoji and I don’t intend to start now. Someone has to hold the line. Standards must be maintained. Recently I accidentally giffed – my phone had a sort of spasm in my bag – but I have since apologised. Gifs and memes are mostly lazy and formulaic, but occasionally marvellous. I can live with them – I am not an animal.

But emojis? Really? For grownups? Are we to reduce our complicated and interesting interior lives to nasty little smiley faces and erect vegetables? (Aubergines, if you are asking.) Is this actual communication? Take it to your mindfulness class. Sad face emoji.

Japan had emojis first and soon they were sold to every tech company. The Smiley Face is now the corporate logo par excellence. You work for the Man and at the end of your messages you send your partner the cuddly image that the Man has installed on your phone. Sometimes the man is grinning or winking or crying or there is a kitten. Your emotional range extends with each new batch of emojis. What fun, this almost talking, almost living.

When I was ranting to a friend about how infantilising these toddler-esque signifiers are, they suggested that maybe I’m not a visual person. Maybe I am, actually, and would prefer something other than these uniform feelgood cartoons. Yellow smiley faces have a long history, and back in the 1970s they did mutate slightly when Talking Heads used one on the 12-inch of Psycho Killer, crossing out the eyes. But by the late 80s , the yellow horrors had spawned and their faces were all over acid house club flyers. They were infantile, open, upbeat; a symbol without a side. Recognisable, but dull. Fatboy Slim has apparently amassed the biggest collection of smiley epehemera in the world, which is due to be part of an exhibition in Portugal. Well, jolly good.

Emoticons got big in the 90s. Yahoo and AOL Instant Messenger used them. Later, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter adopted these shortcuts to “universal emotion”, too. How did this symbol for slightly naughty rave culture become so conservative? All I see is biddability. Will we have some more sophisticated signs soon, or will we shape our emotions to the equipment with which we are expected to express them? Swipe left or right. Drooling face. Balloons.

I’ve had the lectures on the creativity of emoticons and how you can string them together in ways that go beyond the reach of an ordinary sentence. Fab. But why not make your own hieroglyphics? Or make up some new words? Just don’t put words on clothes either, whether it’s Adidas or a Ginsberg is God jumper by Bella Freud. This is equally naff. Grinning squinty face.

T-shirt slogans. Kill me now. I want words to do what words do. I want images to blow my mind. I don’t want my clothes to speak. Weirdly, I want to understand people through what they say, not their ability to send me a badly drawn cartoon animal.

This infantilisation is sinister. Can irony actually live in the wink of the defeated rictus smiley? How clever are these pre-manufactured symbols at conveying nuanced thought? Who demands nuance these days? I may as well use pigeon post.

I won’t back down on this. Emojis could be wonderful little hits. But emotions are big, slippery, awkward things. What are people doing fitting into this corporate and pre-ordained system? All our communication is not only surveilled, we don’t even own the means of production of that communicaton. We are being conned.

Winky smiley face. Excuse me if I don’t respond to the puppy, umbrella and fake flowers you send me ... I am not six. Send help. Send words.





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47 minutes ago, aum said:

I am not six. Send help. Send words.


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