The Dreaded Emoji

should i emoji


Jenny Coyle talks about one of her pet peeves: adults using emojis…

Here’s the thing, I love words.  Big ones on posters, smart ones on blogs, heartbreaking turns of phrases in tweets, poems, radio plays and in the movies.  Singularly delicious words like panglossian (too optimistic!), spelunking (I’m taking it up), banjaxed (the car is), fluthered (yer man was), palimpsest (s’obvious) runcible (as in spoon).  Whether you’re trying to cram all that’s in your heart into 140 characters or ladling out some of the average 15,000 words that we speak a day, there’s nothing so wonderful, so choice as the right word.

That’s why our insistence on peppering perfectly good electronic messages with emoticons and emojis is so irksome, particularly amongst the large proportion of the population aged 18 and over.   Now not only are they available as joyless little additions to your text messages, but there’s a whole new emojii-only app, where words are entirely replaced by your choice of little yellow winking, blinking, eye-batting faces.

We’re particularly good at the apt phrase in Ireland.  ‘Happy out’ is of course very different to plain ‘grand’, and feeling like a bag of spanners is a different feeling although to feeling mouldy, wrecked or plain destroyed.  We’ve got a veritable sweety shop of putdowns, compliments and general lovely descriptiveness at our disposal.  Then there’s the whole nation-of-poets-and-writers factor – the land that gave us both Oscar Wilde and Marian Keyes does not want for a few adjectives.  So why the lemming-like national preoccupation with adding a gurning little face to everything we type?

It reminds me of a well-meaning little travellers’ guide that lived at the bottom of my backpack during a few months of travelling; a collection of images and expressions designed to cut through any language barrier. After the first attempt of trying to communicate ‘What time does the train leave?’ through some frantic pointing and page-flicking, I quickly resorted to the tried-and-tested method of miming, gesturing, smiling and generally communicating what I wanted in all the ways that people who don’t share a language have always done.  So why go backwards now and try to capture any human experience through the meagre filter of these little yellow blinking dots?

Emoji are acceptable for the pigeon-toed Japanese schoolgirl tribes intent on perpetuating a weirdly childlike image of themselves, maybe.  But really, 27-year old woman?  Et tu, 35 year-old man?  How about you take the extra nanosecond to search for the mot juste instead of reaching for the emoji option?  It’s just kind of undignified.  And lazy.  And that’s my final word on it.  No emoji needed.


Words by Jenny Coyle @missmitford

Illustration by Caroline Paul and Wendy MacNaughton- Tech Page One

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