By Sydney Morin
When emojis first started getting attention in, like, 2011(?), I didn’t know how to feel about them. I had just recently come around to adding “lol” to my internet vernacular. (To clarify: It started out as me using the abbreviation ironically, but then after ironically using it for so long, the irony turned into sincerity and now here I am as someone who still says it, lol). I didn’t know if I was ready to adapt to yet another ground-breaking internet trend.
I wasn’t aware of how many people used emojis initially. Honestly, I barely remember who first introduced me to them. Not many of my friends had iPhones, and those who did were merely “basic iPhone users.” By basic, I just mean that, you know, these people weren’t jailbreaking their phones—none of the people were basic. Probably.
You know how people always remember where they were for really monumental moments in their lives, or society, or whatever? I don’t remember where I was (hello, I have a smartphone; why would I ever look up from it?), but I remember exactly which emoji was sent. I opened the text I received—I’m almost positive my Mom sent it—and there it was: the poop emoji.
“This is the future,” I thought, my eyes still stuck on the glorious poop. So, just like that, communication is changed forever? Now we’re able to express our immense range of human emotion with fucking adorable faces? Is there a way I can demonstrate my reaction in a clearer, but just as snarky way? Lol?
But then—my eyes still looking at the poop emoji, btw—I considered a whole new aspect to this magnificent new technology: What if using emojis was actually really weird and, like, detrimental to our long-term neurological development as a society? And then I got self-conscious. And I freaked myself out, and lost my excitement. “Cool,” I responded, in a text to my Mom.
Days went on. More people downloaded emojis. Since I was a curious teenager, I also downloaded the emoji app. I convinced myself that I was only downloading the application ironically—I wasn’t actually succumbing to this fad.
Then the app opened. There were so many faces. And, um, not just faces—animals, plants, food, nouns, poop—the emoji keyboard was my oyster and I was so down with it.
“I opened the text I received—I’m almost positive my Mom sent it—and there it was: the poop emoji. ‘This is the future’, I thought, my eyes still stuck on the glorious poop.”
Learning how to slowly integrate emojis into my texting vocabulary was not as easy as it probably should’ve been. It started off pretty low-key; I’d add a heart emoji here, a sunglasses emoji there, just the easy stuff. And since I was doing everything with the emojis ironically, none of it mattered and I didn’t care about anything (just like how everyone feels about everything all the time everywhere, lol).
But then I started using them a little bit more. I found myself replacing my “lol”s with emojis (as you can see, I have since learned how to love the “lol” again). It was a full on invasion. I sent an emoji with almost every message I typed. I even began pulling emojis from the other pages; I was sending the french horn emoji, the sweet potato emoji, and the Easter Island emoji YEARS before the general public knew about them. But enough about that—who even knows if I’m joking anymore? Are we human or are we dancer?
The veil of irony I wore when I first downloaded the app had dra-MAT-ically dropped. I was a completely different person and I genuinely liked the emojis. Who was I trying to fool anymore? I had never had the opportunity to express my multidimensional girl emotions so clearly before. I know what you’re thinking—how many times had I sent texts about a kimono and been frustrated that I couldn’t add a little picture of an orange kimono? So many times. An unthinkable number of times. And now I had won. I HAD A LITTLE ORANGE KIMONO IN MY PHONE!
But, actually, it was more like the emojis had won. Just like what happened to me and “lol,” what started as a joke turned into a full-blown not-joke. It was real. I loved (and still love) using emojis. However, you should probably be careful with whatever the next crazy-at-first-glance-bizarre-but-secretly-life-changing trend or app or entirely new machine is.
I say “be careful” because, hypothetically, let’s say you ironically start feeding into a new trend. Then you start dedicating all your energy to that trend—but not seriously, since you’re being ironic. At some point, you’re going to start secretly and genuinely enjoying whatever it is that you’re only pretending to like—and that’s sort of sad! If you weren’t such a scaredy-cat initially, you’d probably be a better person overall, lol :).