Holy Emoji, Goth-girl!

Posted: November 11, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Oh, the things you can learn if you open your eyes… 👀

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed girl is queen...

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed girl is queen…

It was nice to have a night off while Firsty posted his ‘State of the Blogger‘ address.  It’s even nicer to know that I’ve got another night off coming to me when he posts Part II.  However, I write because it is the monkey on my back, because I have a need to share my stories and anecdotes that borders on addiction.  I do consider myself to be a high-functioning addict, in the sense that I can ‘conceal my dysfunctional behavior in certain public settings’; if you met bought me a drink at the dance club or sat in my section at Giovanni’s, you would probably never realize that I’m a writer. 📚  However, the monkey definitely pulls my strings from time to time (so I’m not only an addict, I’m a marionette too!) so I’m going to interject a post or two of my own while I’m waiting.  God knows, there have been enough ‘interesting’ people in Giovanni’s lately that I actually have a small backlog of stories building up… 😏  (I’m not using ‘interesting’ in a very complimentary sense, here.  My big worry about the backlog is that through ADD or pregnancy-brain I may forget that I want to tell my stories.  I’ve got another Mackenzie story to tell; I’ve got a story that I’m still debating whether I want to entitle ‘Servers Say the Darned-est Things’ or ‘Partying with Dr. Bob’; and a story about my depleted patience that I want to call ‘That’s the Last Straw’.)

I was going to share one of those stories, but something shiny came along and distracted me. 😜  From this post’s title and the plethora of little smileys hiding throughout this post, you can probably guess that I was distracted by this announcement by WordPress.  That’s right!  Moving forward, WordPress is going to support Emoji.  I happen to agree with the average commenter to the announcement, that Emoji are a great way to add a tone of voice to typed words.  Tone is a big component of communication, particularly emotional communication, and it doesn’t show in the black and white of a computer screen.  Part of my job as a writer, of course, is to evoke the proper tone so that you can hear it in your mind.  My personal goal is to create a conversational tone, like we were talking over dinner or, better yet, over cocktails, rather than me sitting and typing here and you sitting and reading at your computer.  I use asides and interjections both to create that conversational feel and to help allow you back-stage into the rather non-linear nature of my thought patterns.  Similarly, I use italics to make side comments and bold to add emphasis to my statements so that you can better hear my voice in your mind.  More self-editing than you would imagine goes into trying to find the balancing point where I create enough tone for you to hear my voice rather than simply see my words but don’t create so much tone that I actually distract you from my words.

Practical beach-wear?  Probably not; I just got sand in my boots!

Practical beach-wear? Probably not; I just got sand in my boots!

Imagine I was telling you a story where one of the owners or managers at Giovanni’s asked me to do something.  I would report to you that my reply was, “Yeah, I’ll get right on that.”  But those words don’t actually mean anything until you hear my tone of voice.  In a standard conversational tone of voice 😐 like I would give Jonas Giovanni, that actually means “I acknowledge that you told me to do something, and I will do that after I wrap up what I’m doing now.”  His son Steven is a little more savvy, particularly on how to handle and interact with customers, so he’s likely to tell me to do something that makes a little more sense, and I’ll reply with a little more enthusiasm.  Enough enthusiasm 😊 generally translates the “Yeah” into “Dammit, why didn’t I think of that?” and “I’ll get right on that” into “I’m not even going to wrap up what I’m doing; I’m just going to leave stuff out while I switch focus to your directions.”  Our newest manager, Justin, can be a bit of a tool sometimes.  If the request is dumb enough (I’m like a cat in some ways.  No matter how much you think you hear ‘order’ or ‘command’ when you tell me to do something, I only hear ‘request’ or sometimes ‘beg’…) than my reply is going to dripping with sarcasm 😣 and ‘Yeah, I’ll get right on that’ means ‘sometime after I go ice skating in the eighth circle of hell’.  And if it’s Joe asking me, Joe of the six-pack abs, luxurious dark curls, and deep soulful eyes, then I am going to load so much purr 😻 into my voice that my words will really translate as, “I didn’t hear what you actually wanted.  But I know exactly which bodily organ I want to get right on…”  The tone of my voice completely determines the meaning of that phrase, and tone doesn’t show up in written words.  Emoji, however, let me express the exact nuance I need so that you know which meaning to give my words.

Not everyone agrees that Emoji are a great tool for writers.  I’m a big fan of the Fox show 📺 Sleepy Hollow, so I was amused recently when anachronistic Ichabod Crane, advised to handle an apology via texting and cell phone, replies, “Oh, yes. A grimacing yellow caricature should do the trick.”  Likewise, I remember an ex-boyfriend Jeremy who was, and I presume still is, similarly non-modern.  Not so much anti-technology as aggressively committed to remaining out of date.  He was a co-worker during the year we dated, and one of the only servers at Giovanni’s without a smart phone 📱.  Instead he had an antique flip-phone, only one generation removed from a tin can and a piece of string.  Generally when I called or texted him Jeremy wouldn’t answer because he had left his phone a)on the charger, b) at home, or c) in his car.  Instead, hours later, he would go looking for his phone for some reason, find the notification of my call or message, and either call me or send me an extremely short and cryptic text.  (Remember, flip phone.  No key board, not even that little mini-Qwerty-keypad, so he had to cycle through the numbers on the dial pad to pick his letters, such as hitting the number 2 three times in order to get the letter C.)  While we were dating, when I thought things were going to last longer and mean a bit more, I even offered to buy Jeremy a smart phone and share a phone plan with him, and he turned me down because he didn’t want a phone valuable enough that he would feel bad when he ‘inevitably broke or lost it.’  Obviously Jeremy didn’t text with Emoji since they were too ‘advanced’ for his dumb-phone.  Yet he drew little emoticons, such as ‘Toungue-Out-Happy-Face’, whenever he was late check and had to sign off on servers’ outs before they could cash out with the closing manager.  Emoji evolved out of emoticons, as screens became able to show an actual smily face rather then two or three symbols that kind of look like a face if you turn the screen sideways and squint a little, and yet Jeremy went backwards, expressing emoticons with ink and paper.  It was one of his many quirks that were simultaneously frustrating and endearing.

Set sail for adventure and shoe sales, old friends!

Set sail for adventure and shoe sales, old friends!

I understand Crane and Jeremy’s view that Emoji are a short-cut, a lazy approximation to true heartfelt writing.  When we communicate as writers- be it fiction, essays, anecdotes, or simple notes to friends- our job is to use the appropriate tools to facilitate communication and pass our message.  Emoji are a fun and cutesy way to add some of the emotional context to a type written passage.  Are they appropriate for all messages?  Nope.  No more than my heavy use of bold and italic or my occasional use of the f-bomb to add emphasis are appropriate for all messages.  If there is an Emoji in a doctoral thesis, in an editorial for the New York Times, or in an original love poem written to wow and woo my pants off, than someone has hideously misjudged the proper tone for their message.  On the other hand, if blogging a funny anecdote to a small audience you consider friends, if posting an open letter from staff to readers in a magazine for younger readers, if texting your boyfriend you are held up at work, these are all places where being fun and being cute are appropriate, so why not make use of this tool?  I will probably never again use as many Emoji in a single-post as I have in this one 😭😭😭- after all, I’ve developed plenty of tools for showing off the cuteness and whimsey that inhabit my mental landscape without them.  However, I am a huge fan of cute and whimsical, and I’m glad to have another arrow in my quiver 💘 when I’m trying to target my communication goals.  Sprinkling the odd Emoji into my texts is a nice way to show off my cuteness, so I will use them to party on 🎊🎉🎂!

Oh, and speaking of showing off my cuteness, today I’m shooting for a fierce and gothic cuteness.

  1. […] subconscious gave me another piece of the puzzle while I was writing the Emoji post.  I quickly created an ex-boyfriend, former coworker named Jeremy, to hold some of my real life […]

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