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On emojis

I love emojis. I use them on a daily – if not hourly – basis in messages to my friends. My two current favourites, which I use interchangeably and sometimes simultaneously, are the clown and the devil. I tend to drop them in after typing something particularly facetious, annoying, sarcastic, self-deprecating, depressing, or passive aggressive, which I am wont to do – always with a touch of humour, of course. (The fact that I still have friends at which to bombard emojis remains a mystery).


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I like the ambiguity. Am I angry? Am I joking? Am I Satan himself? Am I so perplexed by the staggering abundance of words available to me in the English language that I have to resort to icons to express my (apparently largely negative) feelings? Before I get carried away, let me be clear: I’m not trying to undermine the power of emojis. They add nuance and weight to words on a screen in the same way that body language, intonations, and facial expressions help us to understand and communicate with other people in real life. But digital icons and physical gestures alike can be misused, misplaced, misleading, misinterpreted… And misfired. An over-enthusiastic hand gesture during a pitch can lead to a black eye on a pissed off client, as opposed to the start of a fruitful business relationship. And in the same way (…sort of), over-zealous emoji use by brands can do much more harm than good.

According to the “frequently used” tab on my keyboard, among my other favourites are the eye rolling face, the crying with laughter face, the streaming with tears face, and the shrugging girl. Incidentally, the four stages of emotion I go through when I see brands I like deploying infuriatingly infantile emojis in their online communications are: exasperated, tickled, distressed, and ambivalent. Or: ugh!, ha!, wah!, meh…

In other words, I find it incredibly annoying when the emoji seems to serve no purpose at all other than to “illustrate” the post, just as an over-enthusiastic and under-skilled child might lovingly “illustrate” a Mother’s Day card with slobber and dead insects (I never did that). Emojis look plain naff when they’re used by brands in the wrong context. When this is the case, it probably means that they’ve only been included to drive engagement. I don’t care if your 200-page social media manual or £2000/day social media consultant told you that using emojis will earn you more likes, shares, and follows (a large chunk of which will probably not be human, let alone genuinely interested and invested ones). Sometimes, they are just wrong.

After the initial eye roll, I then have a little chuckle to myself: “Heh. Which prat got paid to write this?!” Shortly after the chuckle subsides, a warm, bulbous tear begins to swell in the corner of my eye and quivers tentatively on the precipice of my eyelid, eventually crashing violently down my cheek as I thrust my gaze to the heavens in despair. Alas, the prat in question does actually exist and did actually get paid to click on that emoji – and don’t get me started on the prat who signed off on it. Then, I shrug my shoulders and thank the powers that be that I work with equally cynical (let’s stick with that adjective) people who also get twitchy when interesting and credible brands (worse yet, the opposite) self-destruct at the hands of their clueless social media managers.

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BTW, for those of you who have been so consumed by our new global language that you literally need the four emojis in question to understand what I’m saying (or you got so bored of my moaning that you need a summary of my feelings on the day of writing), here:

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Why am I bothering to type out so many versions of the same idea when I could have just copied and pasted those emojis at the top of the page and had the job done in under a minute? Isn’t it just such a waste of time, using our brains, sharing our thoughts, developing our writing and communication skills, and finding new and interesting ways to express ourselves?!

Perhaps in this case it is, considering the fact that this blog, according to its creator and main contributor (who also happens to be my boss), gets an average of three clicks per post and thirteen visitors annually… Although his writing is worth at least double that.

Oh well.


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Kp
    November 3, 2017 at 2:53 pm


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