Dear Emoji User:
Thanks for the text back, all in emoji. I called you three weeks ago, but I see now why you didn’t return my call. You were busy hunting for the right emoji to illustrate that you were too busy to call. I loved that your message was just two emoticons, one of a pair of running shoes and another of a clock. It took me three days to figure out that you were trying to tell me you’d run out of time. I can see why. Instead of simply writing “I’ll call you when I get a moment,” which is seven words, you took three weeks to send me the text equivalent of a children’s cave drawing to say what you could have expressed in a few short words.
When I first came across emojis I thought they were clever and cute. The friend who showed them to me said, “You can have entire conversations in emoji!” She said this with the enthusiasm of someone who had just discovered a new planet or cured a disease. She was confused when I didn’t share her joy. In all honesty, I’ve always been happy having entire conversations in conversation. I like words and I’ve never felt the need to replace them with the iphone equivalent of a sticker book. Words have always worked well for me, either spoken or written. And I rarely have to spend three weeks searching for the right one.
Emoji conversations, while clever, aren’t always easy to figure out. It took me days to figure out you were trying to tell me you’d run out of time. My first guess was that you were trying to tell me you were going for a run while wearing a watch, weird since you don’t wear one. I then went into a long mental conversation with myself wondering when you took up running, when you started wearing a watch and why you felt the need to share this information with me. I was going to send you a text message with a question mark emoji, but sent you a hamburger emoji instead. I decided that if my friends were going to speak to me in pictures I can’t understand, I’d reposed in pictures they couldn’t either.
Another friend sent me an emoji message, again just two pictures. The first was of a glass of wine. The second, an emoji of a shrimp. I took this to mean she had gotten a short person drunk when she actually was asking me if I could meet for dinner. See how much easier it would have been if she just text’d of called to say, “Want to meet for dinner?” Then I could have stopped worrying about the health and safety of an intoxicated little person whom I’ve never met.
I like technology. I really do. I just hate when technology replaces people. I’ve always thought of technology as something designed to make our lives better and more efficient so we have more time to connect with those we know and love. But when used excessively, technology isolates us and makes real live human contact unnecessary. I actually like real live human contact. I like to speak to my friends, preferably in person. That’s not always possible, but I’m totally fine with my friendships not digressing into a technological cartoon.
So next time you run out of time, just tell me. It’ll save you all that time you’re spending on a digital game of charades. And it’ll save me all that time I spent looking for an emoji of someone flipping you off.
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