by Gay Yellen
Once upon a time, I had a comfortably introverted life. That all changed in 2014, when my first book came out, and my publisher urged me to join the rest of the world on Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms.
At first, it was tough to emerge from my cocoon, but little by little, I was posting like a pro. I came to feel pretty comfortable about it, too, until last year, when I read an article in The Wall Street Journal about the generation gap in how people interpret what the little emoticons mean.
Take the smiley face, for example. People over the age of thirty generally use it to express happiness, or to indicate a positive response, like saying “good job!” Or perhaps, “I’m happy for you.” But you might be dismayed to know that twenty-somethings and teens find it patronizing, and if they use it at all, they deploy it sarcastically.
Since reading the WSJ article, I second-guess myself almost every time I reply to a post. Does my response feel genuine to the person receiving the message? Or does it come across as ironic when it’s meant to be sincere?
And what to make of the pile of Poop emoji, especially if it’s smiling? Even after consulting the internet for the answer, I’m not really sure, although I did learn that, in 2015, it was the most popular emoji in Canada, while the Eggplant reigned supreme in the States. Excrement and sexual innuendo. Lovely.