An emoji is not an emotion

Hi everyone,

With the rise of technology, just in my own lifetime we’ve gone from having regular phone calls to communicating primarily through text, whether that be SMS, Messenger or Snapchat-style app. When texting first became a thing, everyone worried about kids not being able to spell anymore because of text speak. I never imagined that, as time went on, the textual revolution would have such a profound effect on the way that we communicate with each other.

Image result for mclain walky talky

Image result for mclain walky talky
Imagine if these two had texted each other!  McLean: Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker 😉         Gruber: 😡

Even with phone calls, there was some kind of verbal inflection that showed the emotion of the person you were speaking to. The sound of another human voice and the flow of a normal conversation between two people built the necessary social skills that we all needed. The younger generations are struggling to communicate with a world that they have no practice in because texting gives us time to think about what we’re going to say; time that we don’t have face-to-face, and then we wonder why social anxiety is so prevalent. And, of course, we blame the kids for this when it has nothing to do with them, really. The industries that create the machines and apps aren’t even to blame. This is a cause and effect, supply and demand kind of symbiosis that drives all social change and technological advancement.

The danger for Those-Like-Us in textual communications and Snapchat-style single image shots is that they convey nothing of what the person is really feeling. Hence the title of this post. I can be stood on the ledge of a high-rise building, ready to jump, but still put a smiley face at the end of a message. Snapchat’s photos and filters make it easy to fake a facial expression for a second and then cover up the rest with some deer face or warping filter. if two people were talking face-to-face or even over the phone, it would be a lot harder to hide the sadness and symptoms of depression/anxiety/everything else. That means that people might get the opportunity to talk about their problems a lot more often.

Of course, this extends to other social media. I don’t have this problem myself as I share every Down Days post on my Facebook and Twitter pages. Everyone I know knows about how I am. But, for many, Facebook is an easy way to show people that you’re alright when really you aren’t. It’s because, on social media, people only see the you that you present to them. Every photo, shared story or comment only shows your sadness if you let it, and most people don’t. If you were sat in a cafe with a friend talking about the latest celeb gossip rather than simply reposting it, there’d be a much higher chance that you’d get down to real conversation about each other eventually.

As always, let’s get to the point. Social media and texting/apps/whatever aren’t evil in essence. I’m not vilifying them. But we all need to be more careful and mindful when talking to each other through them. Your friend with depression might send you a smiling emoji, but they’re actually eyeing up the knife drawer at home. And for Those-Like-Me, we already feel compelled to hide so much of ourselves, try not to let it become the norm. It’s ok to not be ok.

On a lighter note…how fucking terrifying is this?

Image result for emoji depression

All aboard the train to Nightmare City! Yikes.

 

Thanks for reading.

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