It is time to have a serious discussion about laughter. To be more specific, the “laugh until you cry” emoji.
Yes, Gentle Reader, as sure as 🙂 has been replaced with the “happy face” emoji, so, too, must the symbol of a smiley face with tears running down both cheeks go the way of the rotary phone, the ice box, and the mullet. Especially the mullet. Business in the front, party in the back is no way to go through life, son.
Which leads me back to this particular icon. As a media critter, I follow the Twitter feeds of a lot of news outlets, trying to stay plugged in to current affairs. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that for every tweet of an item that is truly newsworthy, there is one so inane that it should be enshrined in the same museum than boasts Coke II, Google Glass and the Apple Newton.
Just as the word “like” is used incorrectly by a staggering number of teenagers in conversation, so, too has the crying icon been run into the ground by inappropriate use. Like, “LOL,” like. (See what I did there?) Are you laughing out loud as you send this abbreviation? I doubt it. Which means you are perpetrating an emotional fraud against whomever you are texting.
Back to the emoji at hand…ask yourself — when was the last time you laughed until you cried — at the results of the 2016 election? Sorry…too soon?
If emojis are the way our language is progressing (or, in my opinion, digressing), they need to reflect the conversational style of our society. For example, today we wouldn’t say someone is the “the bee’s knees” any more than we would call them “Daddy-O.” By extension, the “laugh ’til you cry” icon has been so overused that it has lost all meaning. Like the word “diva.” The phrase “fake media.” The song “MacArthur Park.” And breakfast utensil the spork.
Symbolese has gotten so popular that actual language could be thrown out altogether, as long as you have a smart device. From cradle to the coffin, there seem to be a large enough range of icons to allow people to carry on a conversation without even the first word being texted.
After all, the Communications 101 definition of “communication” consists of a message sender, the message, the mode of sending the message, and the receiver. Conversing through pictograms, annoying as they are, fit the bill.
That being said, if the emoji becomes the conversational coin of the realm, it will need to follow the same rules as any other language. Especially when it comes to anachronism. As an example, Kilroy is no longer here, though he was during World War II. No strutting men encourage us to “Keep On Truckin’.” These symbolic messages served their purpose, then faded away as society evolved. So should the Cry emoji.
Decades from now, anthropologists will examine our texts in the same way they currently study Native American petroglyphs, carved into rock surfaces. My question is, what will the “Mr. Poo” emoji say about our culture?