Fuck you, Emoji! (…and whats love got to do with it)
(written in May 2020)
“I hate when a few drops of water run down my forearm towards my elbow when I wash my face over the sink. I hate it!”
“I hate when I order a latte macchiato and the coffee and milk is already mixed when the waiter brings it to me. I hate it!”
“I hate those paper labels on the loaf of bread!”
“I hate when men have long fingernails!”
When I talk to people, I sometimes hear sentences like that. When I look at the face of a person who is explaining that they hate when cream is served on top of the cake and not next to it, I can only wonder. Because many people laugh as they say it. They use the word “hate” and laugh at the same time.
All the examples I have given above are trivialities. Minutiae. None of them are important. Of course, one can talk about them. One can also leave them be.
Hate is a strong word. The phrase “I hate you” expresses maximum dislike. When I say that to someone, I don’t laugh. And the feeling behind this phrase is anger. A lot of anger, big anger.
In the context of the latte macchiato, it might be more appropriate to say, “I don’t like it when I order a latte macchiato and the coffee and milk are already mixed when the waiter brings it to me.”
The word hate is appropriate for statements like, “I hate when my sister gets shot in the middle of the street.”
I think there’s a deep longing in our culture to express feelings. I interviewed people as part of an experiment last year. Some of them I just approached on the street or in a café. They were people who had a tattoo and I always asked them the same questions about the first tattoo they got. My last question was always: “Imagine that I now hand you 4 cards, each of them representing one of these 4 feelings (fear, anger, sadness, joy). Which card do you put on the table when you think of your tattoo?”
I was amazed at how much strangers loved to talk to me about their feelings. Nearly all of them had got the tattoo at a time when their lives were about to go through big changes that came with strong feelings. It almost seemed to me as if the tattoo was a frozen feeling. Or a gateway to the feelings that they were experiencing at the time.
Or let’s talk about the subject of emojis.
What is an emoji? An emoji is a pictograph that expresses emotional states. How convenient! Especially in such lightning-fast conversation forums like WhatsApp. If I don’t use at least one smiley at the end of a message, I am almost considered rude.
I feel anger that people use emojis instead of saying what they feel. I feel anger because we always try to look good, even when we are angry. When I am angry, my face distorts. It becomes a single scream. When I’m angry, I spit fire that burns anything that comes near me. When I’m angry, you don’t stand a chance. I tear you apart with my bare hands. When I’m angry, I’ll destroy you with a single look out of my eyes!
HOW… THE FUCK… CAN A BLOODY EMOJI EXPRESS THAT I’M ANGRY???
Next time you send a text message, do it without emojis. Where you’d like to use one, instead think about what you really want to say. Then write that. Write for example, “(I wanted to use a smiley emoji at this point. But I changed my mind. Instead I want to say: I love you.)”