Emotional Icons


Send one wrong emoji and suddenly you feel attacked, misunderstood, vilified, and, well, old.  Granted, I’ve apparently been sending this particular (and apparently incorrect) upside-down-smiley-face emoji for months now.  Frankly, I got tired of tapping on the standard smiley face options.  When I found the upside-down-smiley-face I thought oh, yes that is much more me.  On a very basic level, I like to be upside down.  Plus, I thought it was cute and was surprised to have not noticed it sooner.  To be honest, I thought I was quite hip in rolling out this not often seen emoji.  I had no idea that I was diving into the texting faux pas pool.  Oops.  

Also, is it really offensive if there was no actual intent of offense?  If I offer a list of profanities into my pillow when no one is home, does it really count as swearing?  Or is it just that we are so deep into the world of validating feelings that I just have to take the blame for being offensive because the receivers decided I was being intentionally emotional and iconically passive aggressive?

Right.  I hear it now.  I’m old. 

I’ve decided on my own penance in the form of a public service announcement for those of us born in the 70’s.  Actually, two public service announcements.  If you hang in there until the end you can see number two.  

PSA One:  

Evidently, the upside-down-smiley-face emoticon is not just another way to convey happiness.  Or approval  Or agreement.  It is apparently also not a cheerleader/I’m on your side!/how wonderful! conveyor of one’s feelings..  But, for Google’s sake, I did look it up after learning that I was sending something that was clearly (not at all) intended as passive-aggressive…so here we go.

My infraction (or at least the one that has sparked a small firestorm in my home (an ember storm?)) occurred when our eldest announced a new job.  Both her dad and I send our congrats.  He in the form of the actual words and me in the form of the upside-down-smiley-face emoji.  In fairness, I was standing on a tennis court between serves and had about two seconds to send something via my tiny watch screen.  When her return of thanks came back only tagged to Dad… I could feel the tension.  Yes, I know, that’s an assumption, but it’s been a long five years, so bear with me.


Later in the day and completely without prodding, my infraction was brought to my attention in a conversation which I did not initiate by another household member.  Who was my husband.  And, while I know that everyone I live with thinks I’m relatively dumb… I’m also relatively sure that the conversation was initiated due to an offline reaction of the (unintentionally) offended party.  Did that sound too lawyerly?  I’m trying to take lessons from my younger child.  

So, in reference to the definition above, I would like to highlight the important bit:

…depending on the context and personality of the user…

The context in which I use this emoji most often (meaning all of the dang time) is to be a cheerleader, let someone know I am on their side, or shorten the words how wonderful! when I am unable to type for that long.  The personality of the user (who is me) when using this emoji most often (meaning all of the dang time) is delighted, pleased, excited, and encouraging.  Oh and, at times, silly.  IE…projecting silliness.  That’s it.  End of context.  On another very basic level, I make a concerted effort not to be passive aggressive via text every dang day.  Except with my husband – he adores it.  With all others, I lean strongly to passive agreeable

I was a bit miffed when I found out that my text responses were being interpreted as something that they weren’t.  As a nearing AARP person, I am highly aware that anything but the straightest forward of texts can and will be interpreted at the lowest level of intent.  It’s one of the reasons we, as a society, are so dang sensitive in the age of cyber chats.  I do blame my friends.  Surely someone could have told me by now that I was doing it wrong, right?  Or maybe none of them knew, either.  Maybe this PSA will spark a repairing of relationships across America.  Even so, maybe one of my roommates could have thrown a heads up my way months ago.  We have clearly been swimming in uncharted waters within our four walls this year – why let this line item go?  Was it more satisfying to remain in a state of annoyance instead?  

The ongoing hilarity of it (to me) is that my son will die on the hill of my intent for passive aggression.  I actually brought all of the above evidence to him, first, as he does serve as a great checkpoint for my mood swings.  When I made an attempt at proving that it was absolutely possible to simply use an emoji wrong, he countered with the opposite evidence.  In fairness, he is the top lawyer in the McGillicutty, McGillicutty, McGillicutty, and McGillicutty Firm.  

For the record, I also use the shrug emoji quite often. Like when I don’t understand something.  I also use the red heart, the thumbs up, the glass of wine, the party favor, the taco, the winking face, and the surrounded-by-hearts face.  If you have heard any ugly secondary meanings for these, please fill me in.  In the meantime, I will take the young lawyer’s advice and just use my real words.  


PSA Two is real quick and bold and italicized so you know I mean business.  

As it is Pinktober, put a mammogram on your schedule.  Don’t be the moron who comes down with an advanced stage diagnosis due years of procrastination in mammogramming.  (Sorry, that didn’t sound very friendly.  I think I’m tired of people asking for thoughts and prayers for something they could have been preventive with).

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