It’s another new word driven by and originated in the wonderful universe of technology. The World Wide Web begat emails. Emails begat messaging. I’m not too sure about this particular link. But I’m fairly confident that emails and messaging have a lot to do with, um, emails and messaging. Messaging begat texts. Texts, for better or for worse, begat emojis.
I get the “emo-“ part. “Emo” as in emotion. Where the “ji” came from is a mystery so I’m going to ignore it. I also don’t know the difference between and emoji and an emoticon so I’m ignoring that, too. I do like the theory of the emoji. It’s a shortcut to emphasize emotional expression. It’s like punctuation for adjectives. My phone hosts a very modest 317 emojis. You and I and Steve Jobs know there must be about two gazillion of them out there. But here’s the thing … there is never the correct one.
Let’s look at just one sub-section — smiley faces. The very phrase is sort of creepy and badly inaccurate. Not all smiley faces are, you know, smiling. Some are kissing (kissy faces), some are winking (winky faces), some have the shocked look (uh-oh faces), some are weeping (teary faces), and there are several that are disturbing with their X’d out eyes, which I have always thought meant deceased (dead faces), one that is drooling (gross faces), and one in which the eyes and stuck-out tongue are dollar signs (money faces). There is one with a very long nose which I am assuming means lying face and one that has puffed out cheeks on a green face which can only mean nausea face. I have heard about vomiting face but, small mercies, that does not seem to be part of my personal repertoire. But there is no face, smiling or otherwise, showing the nose being held as in “That stinks.” Do things not stink in the world of emojis? More on that in a minute.
Lots of hands there, too. Both the faces and the hands offer a wide variety of color choices, from an apparent albino to deep deep brown. The hands are doing many things, including something as esoteric as getting a manicure. With purple nail polish. I’m not sure this is as useful as, say, the emoji of a hand (color to be determined) giving the middle-finger salute in the universal language of disgruntled people everywhere. There is even, for those stuck in the 1980s, a Star Trek throw-back of the Vulcan symbol for “Live long and prosper.” One hand is surrounded by little lines, suggesting the hand is waving. Is it waving good-bye? Hello? Stop? But we cannot keep hope alive with emojis because there is no fingers-crossed selection.
I was happy to see my emoji selection is egalitarian. There are male and female police, construction workers, doctors, graduates, welders, detectives, mechanics, artists, firefighters, astronauts, and pilots. I’m not quite sure what four little triangles above a kid’s head means, but it must mean something for everyone because there is both a boy and girl pictured. No male brides and no female grooms are offered so apparently emoji-dom has not broached the subject of same-sex marriage. Emojis are presented showing every permutation of families, though: a mommy and a daddy, two mommies, two daddies, one mommy, one daddy. However, each family displays a maximum of two kids so if you have more than that and want to convey all your offspring correctly you have to find the large family emoji somewhere else. But there are no childless couples depicted which demonstrates a complete lack of sympathy for the limited population-growth sector. There aren’t any female weight lifters, either, which is sure to annoy my friends at the Y.
Having eaten all my life, I thought I was pretty clued in about food. The coffee emoji is pretty handy, as is the ice cream and sushi. There is whiskey and beer and a martini and even a frou-frou beverage with an umbrella and fruit garnish. But you have to order your drinks neat in the emoji-ville tavern because there is no emoji of a drink with ice.
Sometimes a girl just wants a little peace and quiet but she can’t convey that pictorially because there is no shushing emoji. I would think a shushing emoji would be awfully useful. On the other hand, if you want peace and quiet, what the heck are you doing texting in the first place?
Some emojis I just don’t understand, such as the giant eyeball, the giant lipstick, the giant biceps, and the giant tongue. But there is one emoji I thought was impossible to misinterpret. Texting broke the fecal threshold a while back. I immediately knew what this symbol meant, which says more about me than it does about emojis. But my friend Laura thought it was a Hershey’s kiss. Finally … a way to stop thinking so fondly about chocolate.
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call.