Am I way too old to use emojis? Well, maybe.
Deep down, I sort of knew this already. This isn’t because I have a violent reaction every time I see someone on social media compose sentences, paragraphs or stories using nothing but tiny computer-generated illustrations. This isn’t exactly an old fart “get the hell of my lawn” moment.
The fact is, if I could see them better, I might actually understand the message. I have to admit, sometimes — nearly all the time really — I can’t tell the difference between a smiling emoji or a frowning, sobbing, winking or tongue unfurling one. About the only emojis I can immediately understand are the ones signaling pizza (yay) or poop (the inescapable result of the former). At least the poop smiles — and doesn’t smell.
This vision thing is a condition from birth, not age — although the latter hasn’t made anything easier. As I get older, tech wizards develop smaller devices. The message contained on nearly everything shrinks exponentially. This is true even on large-screen TVs. As TV screens grew to ginormous proportions, the written information has ironically become almost microscopic. I haven’t known a sports score on TV for at least the last five years. My spouse now uses ear buds to watch the “Great British Baking Show” on her laptop to avoid my incessant question about who’s leading in an NBA playoff game.
This aging thing and emojis transcends my rather pitiful vision. The old part was only partially confirmed by the results of a survey conducted about the little pieces of art built to be a form of communication via social media.The easy comparison is to prehistoric cave drawings — the way humans once communicated before all sorts of more convenient and easily shared methods were invented.
And some thought the Trump administration was the most obvious symbol that we’ve regressed as a culture.
But in reality, I don’t actually think emojis are so bad. In fact, I believe it’s a much, much higher and creative form of communication than internet slang / acronyms such as LOL or SMH or WTF (my mom’s license plate is hilarious). And emojis are a vast improvement over the vast array of misspellings and nonexistent abbreviations often found in posts on social media.
According to a study sent to me a few weeks ago, six billion emoji are sent every day. A State of the Emoji survey conducted for 2017 by mojilala.com found the following among Americans asked:
When women were asked which emojis they wish existed, the most popular answer was fingers snapping (14 percent), followed by a box of doughnuts (12 percent). Meanwhile, the most in-demand emoji among men is a beer can (15 percent), followed by a fart (11 percent). Personal observation: This is the most predictable finding about men in recorded history.
When asked who shouldn’t use emojis, 29 percent of Americans responded “government officials.” Other people who shouldn’t use emojis include “my boss” (14 percent), followed by “senior citizens” (10 percent), “my parents” (10 percent), and “anyone over 30” (5 percent). Personal observation: I’m decrepit enough to fall into the last three categories. And young Americans didn’t trust people over 30 in the 1960s either. So little really changes.
Emojis are significantly more popular among women than men. 91 percent of women say they use emojis, compared to 75 percent of men. Personal observation: That women like them is the biggest thing in favor of emojis. Like Tessio on “The Godfather,” women were and are always smarter.
Eighty-six percent of Americans say they use emojis on a regular basis. That figure jumps to 92 percent among millennials (ages 18-34) and falls to 77 percent among non-millennials (ages 35 and up). Emojis are least popular among baby boomers (ages 54 and up) (62 percent) — although, notably, that is still a majority. Personal observation: Millennials probably make fun of me.
The good news? They can communicate it and I’ll never catch on.